Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rhody Waves a Dead Chicken

The magic in the near south was slow, but Rhode Island apparently got it done. Its attorney general said the state should recognize Massachusetts same-sex marriages.

Genuflection to eeka at 1 Smoot Short for the alert.

This is certainly better than the marble-mouth New Jersey AG's statement. They did the Nelly version -- Oo, oo, just don't call it marriage.

According to the Providence Journal, AG Patrick Lynch responded to the Board of Governors for Higher Education. They had three employees married in Massachusetts requesting personnel-file updates to show their status.

Small inconvenience: The ProJo link requires free registration.

Lynch's magic wand has a very limited range though. He was plain in adding that this in no way permitted SSMs to start happening in his state. The governor is very anti-marriage equality and the legislature regularly refuses to handle bills that would legalize SSM.

Otherwise, Rhode Island has fairly liberal marriage laws. It is in a sweet spot legally for never having limited marriages to a man and a woman. I had expected them to be the second state offering full SSM.

Given the opposition from the governor and a few key legislative leaders, Lynch was real cautious. He justified his opinion based on a 1904 ruling from the state's high court. That said marriages are valid unless "odious by the common consent of nations, or if its influence is thought dangerous to the fabric of society, so that it is strongly against the public policy of the jurisdiction."

With that very narrow set of limits, Lynch concluded, "The only marriages declared contrary to public policy [and void] in Rhode Island are bigamous marriages, incestuous marriages and marriages between two mentally incompetent persons."

Makes-You-Go-Hmm Follow-Up: The editorial in today's Kent County Daily Times suggests that the AG's comments are leading:
So legislators have straddled the fence for a while now - and while they said early this year gay marriage might hypothetically make it onto the 2007 legislative agenda, it's not particularly likely.

It's beginning to sound more and more like they won't have a choice.

...(Lynch's) written opinion has no technical legal weight; it's strictly advisory - but don't mistake the impact of a statement from the state's top lawyer on an issue of such great social importance.

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Ryan said...

yay for good news.

Uncle said...

But...but...but...if two mentally incompetent people cannot marry, then how do the anti-SSMs procreate? Spontaneous generation?

It does seem as if the anti ice is getting thin in Rhode Island.