Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.
This week Dave and Mark talk with Discover Newport President and CEO Evan Smith. They discuss the impact same-sex marriage will have on Newport as a wedding and tourist destination and what’s being done to lure this new market.
Rhode Island and Minnesota have become the 12th and 13th state to legalize same sex marriage. It became legal at 12:01 Thursday morning. Outside Providence City Hall was a hub of activity as gay couples sought licenses while outside, protesters on both sides of the issue picketed.
The Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau said it expects tourism and the wedding industry will get a boost from Rhode Island’s new same-sex marriage law.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau has been marketing to the LGBT community for the last nine years. Kristen Adamo is the vice president for marketing, and she expects same-sex weddings will grow over time.
Across the Ocean State, same-sex couples are applying for marriage licenses and tying the knot. On Thursday Rhode Island and Minnesota became the 12th and 13th states in the country to legalize gay marriage. The bill was signed into law back in May, making Rhode Island the last state in New England to legalize gay marriage.
As same-sex marriage becomes legal in Rhode Island Thursday, state Representative Frank Ferri and his longtime partner are among those planning to mark the day by tying the knot. It took almost 20 years to legalize same-sex marriage in the Ocean State.
Ferri and his partner, Tony Caparco, plan to marry in Warwick this evening with about 300 friends and family members on hand. House Speaker Gordon Fox will perform the ceremony. Ferri, a Warwick Democrat, says the newfound ability of gays and lesbians to marry in Rhode Island will lend special meaning to the nuptials.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Thursday will be a happy day in Rhode Island, now that the state’s same-sex marriage law is in effect. The governor has pushed for bringing same-sex marriage to the state since taking office. He said it will help create jobs.
“I do believe that young, creative people that want to come and do business, you just want to have a welcome mat out. I do believe it’s very, very important to growing the economy in Rhode Island," said Chafee.
Channing Memorial Church in Newport will hold, as they’d call it, a service of celebration for the first day of marriage equality in Rhode Island this Thursday, August 1st. The event will include music, a brief listing of same-sex couples from the past thru the present and a number of different readings, including passages from the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The City of Providence started accepting pre-applications for same-sex marriage licenses Monday, but the throngs of people expected failed to materialize. As of midday only two gay couples had applied, according to city registrar Serena Conley.
“Well this morning we’ve had two couples in. They were here bright and early, 8:30 in the morning, very excited to be here,” said Conley, who adds both couples were male. “They were extremely excited and very, very happy. One couple was actually grinning from ear to ear.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on legislation that could legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. The issue has never previously come this far in the state Senate.
The 10-member Judiciary Committee plans to vote on two separate bills. One would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples through the legislature. The other one has broader religious exemptions and would make legalizing same-sex marriage subject to a statewide vote.