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House Approves Same-sex Marriage

The proposal to guarantee marriage rights to all Rhode Islanders now moves onto the state Senate.

Rhode Island moved one step closer to marriage equality Thursday as the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 51 to 19 today to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state, the Legislature announced in a release.

Rep. Arthur Handy, who has introduced the bill for each of the last 11 years, said the proposal is about justice and equity for same-sex couples.

“Obviously, this issue is about fairness and allowing all Rhode Islanders to have equal access to the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage, but marriage is about so much more than legal protections," Handy said in a release. "My wife and I have been married since 1997, and as we’ve worked together to raise our son, the value of having a committed, strong family has become more apparent to us over time. All Rhode Islanders deserve to enjoy that security and support, and deserve to have their family recognized as equal to others.

"It feels good to see how far we’ve come in Rhode Island toward valuing all families, and I know we are close to the day when marriage equality becomes law here,” the Cranston representative added.

Forty-two of the 75 House members sponsored the bill, and the House Judiciary Committee approved it unanimously. The Seante is the final hurdle as Gov. Lincoln Chafee has pledged to sign it if the Senate approves it as well, the Statehouse release states.

The bill removes gender-specific language from the section of the general laws that governs eligibility for marriage. It inserts language that allows any person to marry any other eligible person, regardless of gender, effective immediately upon adoption of the bill.

It contains a provision that allows couples who entered into civil unions in Rhode Island to convert those unions to marriages, and automatically converts all remaining civil unions that have not been dissolved by Jan. 1, 2014, into marriages on that date. 

The bill reiterates the right of religious institutions to set their own guidelines for marriage eligibility within their faith.

Rhode Island is the only New England state that does not allow same-sex marriage. Currently nine states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex couples to marry.

In September, a WPRI poll of 501 likely voters in Rhode Island found that 56 percent of Rhode Islanders support same-gender marriage, and only 36 percent oppose it.

Harvey Wallbanger February 12, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Never said it was insignificant. I am glad sodomy is alive and well. I was just asking a question. So much work to get it legalized and then they win and everything goes quiet. Thought for sure there would be a big celebration - like a parade. Gays have always had the right but if it becomes a right through redefinition then everyone can marry anything. It hurts everyone's marriage because then marriage has no meaning. Pretty soon no one will get married as it has happened in Sweden.
Dan Johnson February 12, 2013 at 06:30 PM
If you read my responses, you would see I have addressed your points. And still you provide no legitimate governmental interest sufficient for denial of equal rights. (but of course, that is because there is no legitimate excuse.)
Dan Johnson February 12, 2013 at 06:47 PM
True you did not use the word "insignificant." Your choice of words was "nothing. Nadda". You fail to show how 9,000 gay people in Iowa is "nothing. Nadda." Allowing gay people to participate under the rules currently in effect, does not change marriage for straight people. It does not allow "everyone to marry anything". Reasonable restrictions based on age, ability to demonstrate informed consent, and being human still apply. There is no rational reason to change any of those restrictions. More of the same does not require doing something else. The current or future marriages of straight couples are not changed. The 1,138 federal rights and protections, as well as the state rights and protections, remain the same. The only change is in allowing otherwise qualified same sex couples to participate.
Dan Johnson February 12, 2013 at 07:11 PM
"Start with Massachusetts, which endorsed gay marriage in May 2004. That year, the state saw a 16 percent increase in marriage. The reason is, obviously, that gay couples who had been waiting for years to get married were finally able to tie the knot. In the years that followed, the marriage rate normalized but remained higher than it was in the years preceding the legalization. So all in all, there’s no reason to worry that gay marriage is destroying marriage in Massachusetts. The other four states that have legalized gay marriage—New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire—have done it more recently, somewhere between 2008 and 2011. But from the little data we have, it looks as if the pattern will be more or less the same—a temporary jump in marriage followed by a return to virtually the same marriage rates as before gay marriage became legal. Washington, D.C., which started accepting same-sex marriages in March 2010, saw a huge 61.7 percent increase in marriage that year, though it’s too soon to see where it will settle. Again, no signs of the coming apocalypse." http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/05/does_gay_marriage_affect_marriage_or_divorce_rates_.html And people are still getting married in Sweden.
Patrick Luce (Editor) February 12, 2013 at 07:24 PM
So Harvey, you acknowledge one's sexual orientation is not a choice, but "it is how you act on it." Are you saying people should not be who they are?
Harvey Wallbanger March 24, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Patrick, I know you are trying hard to find a way to trip me up. Do understand - Life is a choice. Just as I had no choice how I was born I can still choose how to live my life. If you so choose to be GAY then so be it. I choose to be straight. Good for me.
Dan Johnson March 24, 2013 at 08:52 PM
If you have a choice, you are bi-sexual. Evidence exists both through research and clinical studies as well as through the personal testimony of millions of gay and straight people around the world who will testify they have no choice over to whom they are emotionally, romantically, and physically attracted. Bisexual people sometimes confuse the issue as it takes some of them a long time to realize that while they experience attractions to some members of both sexes, they have no choice over being attracted. Like gay and straight people, they only have a choice of whether to act on their attractions. "The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations." AAP
Richard March 24, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Nobody is "forcing" you to accept anything. You can stay in your heterosexual marriage and nothing will change. And you don't have to "accept this threat". If you don't like or accept gay people, don't invite them to your home. Those of us who don't accept war as a solution still have to pay taxes to support the military. I don't have to invite soldiers into my home, though.
Harvey Wallbanger March 25, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Dan, everyone has a choice.
Dan Johnson March 25, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Sexual orientation is not a choice. While acting on it is, you wish to deny to gay people the relationship possibilities you promote for straight people.
Harvey Wallbanger March 25, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Haven't denied anyone anything. Some of us prefer no to redefine things. You want equality and if equality means the same as then you can marry just as I as long as it is of the opposite sex. if you choose to have a relationship with some one of the same gender go knock yourself out. Society as a whole should not have to recognize it.
Dan Johnson March 25, 2013 at 05:53 PM
12 states and DC already recognize same sex marriages, including Rhode Island, as does Canada and Mexico in addition to many other jurisdictions. The question is, should RI treat same sex couples equally under the laws currently in effect by allowing them to obtain their marriage licenses here at home, or make them travel to a neighboring state or country to obtain their marriage certificate. You want to deny them the right to get a license here. You make them travel to obtain a legal marriage. You are free to remain in denial, but same sex couples are already getting legally married every day.
Harvey Wallbanger March 25, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Stick to the subject. Now you are talking about something different. oh well. You know those lying politicians will do anything for a vote.
Dan Johnson March 25, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Just responding to your comment. You wish to deny equal treatment to same sex couples. Society already recognizes those marriages in many jurisdictions, including Rhode Island. You just want to deny them the right to get married at home. Your desire to make them travel is not an altruistic one. Your desire to make them marry someone to whom they have no attraction is also an irrational one, and again, not altruistic.
Dan Johnson March 25, 2013 at 06:40 PM
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it." Oscar Wilde
Harvey Wallbanger March 25, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Deny Equal treatment....So lets look at the definition of EQUAL: EQUAL means the same as. Homosexuals want equal treatment as Straights. The way it was written for straights was one man can marry one woman. I have never denied anyone access to marriage as long as they followed the law as I am expected. If a certain state decides to redefine the definition then good for them. How the law is to be written for a given state is up to them. If Gays must travel then that is a CHOICE they make - please do not blame me for someone else's problems. Marriage... attraction. The difference between us is you call it a marriage and I do not.
Dan Johnson March 25, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Your definition excludes same sex couples for no legitimate governmental purpose. It provides nothing to opposite sex couples, while harming same sex couples needlessly. I call it marriage when two people enter the same legal contract we call marriage. So does the state, along with several others. Married same sex couples in the state are treated equally under the same laws currently in effect for straight couples. The only difference is, the state makes them travel to get the license. Again, you provide no legitimate governmental interest sufficient for denial of the license in their local communities.
Robert E March 25, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Through most of human history and in most cultures the most widely accepted tradition of marriage has been polygamy -- one man and multiple women. We're not just talking about exotic island cultures or lost tribes in the African jungle. Polygamy is the family form most often mentioned in the first five books of the Old Testament. For the first 16 centuries of its existence, the Catholic Church held that marriage was inherently tainted by what Pope Gregory the Great deemed the degrading "carnal pleasure" that took place under its auspices. The church decided that a man and woman were married if they had exchanged "words of consent," even if they had done so out by the haystack, without any witnesses or involvement by a priest. Not until 1215 did the Catholic Church make marriage a sacrament, and not until 1563 did it begin to enforce rules mandating that certain ceremonies had to be performed to make a marriage legitimate. Sixteenth-century Protestant reformers had a much more positive marriage a sacrament, and not until 1563 did it begin to enforce rules mandating that certain ceremonies had to be performed to make a marriage attitude toward the blessedness of marriage than Catholics.
Robert E March 25, 2013 at 11:48 PM
But Protestant clerics were stricter than Catholics in enforcing the tradition that marriage should be governed by considerations of patriarchal authority and property rather than free choice based on love. In many Protestant regions, authorities forbade impoverished individuals from marrying at all. And Protestant officials often stepped in to dissolve marriages that had been made without parental consent, even if both parties were adult and children had already been born to their union. Most of the "traditions" we associate with marriage are in fact comparatively new. It was only two centuries ago that people began to marry for love rather than for mercenary or practical considerations. Only 130 years ago did men start to lose their legal right to physically beat or imprison their wives. And only in the past 40 years have we established the principle that within a marriage wives and husbands have equal rights in decision-making. Not until 1979 did the last American state finally repeal its "Head and Master" law, which had given husbands the final say over many aspects of family life. Not until 1993 did marital rape become a crime in every state, overturning the millennia-old tradition that a wife was obligated to have sex with her husband whenever he demanded it.
Robert E March 25, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Trying to revert to antiquated and unfair traditions is not the answer. We need to figure out how to build on the opportunities and minimize the risks associated with the ongoing modernization of marriage. It helps no one to wage futile culture wars to return to a tradition that wasn't half as clear-cut or advantageous as many people believe.
Harvey Wallbanger March 26, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Robert E, unfortunately, I can only go by tradition in the sense of what I have known. Dan, I am glad there are states who recognize same sex marriage. However, if you visit the CDC website, you will also find that the top 12 states who have the HIGHEST instance of all sexual diseases including AIDS/HIV among gay men. So, how does it hurt Heterosexual marriage? Again, one must examine places who already have established Gay marriage which includes Scandanavia/Sweden. After 20 years guess what? No one is getting married. People do not see a need to get married.
John Galt March 26, 2013 at 02:18 AM
All I would like to understand Naome is, just how fat are you anyway?
Mark Wyman March 26, 2013 at 02:35 AM
john naome is a stay at home dad.
Naome Lixes March 26, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Dear John, Fat enough to immobilize another internet badass, eat a turkey drumstick and shove the bone where you'll enjoy it most... “Nothing optional—from homosexuality to adultery—is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishments) have a repressed desire to participate. As Shakespeare put it in King Lear, the policeman who lashes the whore has a hot need to use her for the very offense for which he plies the lash.” ― Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything What I would like to understand John Galt is, if you go Galt is there anyone else? It's genuinely impressive, how well you type, with just one hand....
John Galt March 26, 2013 at 02:50 AM
So that's it! He is so proud of his life's myriad accomplishments and successes that he is empowered enough to anonymously mock, belittle, demoralize and ridicule anyone that has any type of opposing ideal, belief or politic. Staying at home is serious business, it really is no wonder why he exudes such flagrant and arrogant pompousness. what a winner. /sarcasm
John Galt March 26, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Dear Naome, I've been called much worse by much better... You are a living farce.I don't claim to be a bad ass, I am a simple and humble guy that believes in merit, humanity and fairness. I simply don't appreciate bully's and you are a pretty big one here. . Unlike yourself, I don't sit at home all day, scouring the internet looking for virtual arguments that I can "win" by hodge-podging cherry picked citations taken in any context that suits my fancy all so that I can feed my broken ego. You are such the multi-tasker! It must be exhausting! Hey look I'm Naome Lixes, and after googling the planet for an hour, I've found some obscure reference that provides a counter-point to anything that you just said. Of course I didn't think of it myself, and I certainly didn't posses the knowledge myself, but hey, copying words from the web is a skill, right? What happened to you, maybe you would feel better if you just sought out some therapy... Just show us on the bunny where they touched you... you might finally get some relief. I could care less about what anyone else does in their bed-room. And even if I did have an opinion that was different, I am certainly entitled to it. We all are. It's part of the human element. Your ideals don't make you better than anyone. You are a fat, stay at home nobody. Seriously bra, get over yourself. WHAT HAVE YOU EVER ACCOMPLISHED?
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 02:46 PM
H. The common but irrational and false claim opposite sex couples will stop getting married if same sex couples are treated equally, was partially debunked above. While Europe is different in the incentives for marriage, people continue to get married there. Ironically, they created "civil unions" to appease the religious objectors, and many straight couples are choosing those rather than marriage, but they are still forming committed relationships complete with legally binding contracts. "In fact, Denmark's long-term decline in marriage rates turned around in the early 1980s, and the upward trend in heterosexual marriage has continued since the 1989 passage of the registered partner law Today, Danish heterosexual marriage rates are the highest they have been since the early 1970s." http://www.contemporaryfamilies.org/marriage-partnership-divorce/scandinavia.html
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 03:14 PM
H. Not sure where you got your CDC info, but it is wrong. Of the top 10 states listed by CDC, only NY and Maryland currently allow same sex marriage, and that only happened last year. Florida , Texas, Georgia, and other more anti-gay states made the list. Yet even that false information fails to show any harm to marriage. Disease information has always been used against minority populations to demonize and dehumanize in order to justify causing further harm. Yet even misleading information about disease transmission, supports the importance of encouraging committed relationships through marriage. It also demonstrates the importance of accurate and honest education about disease transmission and risk reduction. Anyone can catch any disease, if exposed in a way that allows transmission. It fails to provide an excuse for legal discrimination and the continued promotion of the irrational prejudice that leads many to self destructive behavior including high risk sex. Punishing one group for something that involves everyone is irrational. It also fails to consider gay women are the lowest risk group for disease transmission, while straight people of both sexes are also at risk for all of the same things used to demonize and deny equal treatment to gay people of both sexes.
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I also provided documentation showing your information about Europe is wrong as well, but it shows pending. In short, declines in marriage stopped once gay people started wanting equal protections. It is irrational to believe people will stop getting married simply because more people want to.
Harvey Wallbanger March 26, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Anyone can form a committed relationship. If more relationships are happening than marriage, then marriage is on the decline. The CDC information came from the CDC website. Yes, anyone can get a disease. I wasn't talking about that but thank you for trying to avoid the real problem.

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