Tuesday, May 03, 2011

RI, No Marriage for You

This afternoon (TU 5/3 at 4:30 PM) at the RI capitol, same-sex marriage advocates will protest. The General Assembly did not have quite enough votes to pass SSM, and will try to pass the much inferior civil unions instead.

The pivot here is House Speaker Gordon Fox. Openly gay and a long-time sponsor of SSM bills there, he sudden capitulated. As he wrote to RI legislators, "pragmatism" led him to give up, rather than retrench for another go next year.

The local daily, the Providence Journal, is likewise cowardly. In a lead editorial, it gave a mealy mouth call for SSM...eventually. Meanwhile not passing even a far inferior unions law would, the editorial irrationally states, might avoid a DOMA-style public referendum, with anti-equality talk. It concludes, "In contrast, civil-unions legislation would at least move the state in the right direction."

It is an understatement to say the outcry is fierce. As Marriage Equality RI put it on their site quoting board chair Martha Holt:
Civil unions are a compromise for no one. Advocates both for and against marriage equality have clearly expressed their opposition to the half measure of civil unions. We are extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership at the State House and we would urge Speaker Fox to rethink sponsoring legislation that would create a second class of citizens.
For the unaware, RI already accepts MA and other legal SSMs. It's almost to equality. This is certainly no time to curl up and whimper.

Background Podcast: MERI's campaign director, Ray Sullivan, joined us at Left Ahead to discuss SSM there. Catch him here.

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