(PROVIDENCE, RI) The lead sponsor of a House bill to legalize same-sex marriage says he plans to introduce it Thursday.
Cranston Representative Art Handy says his bill includes a guarantee that religious officials wouldn’t have to prefer same-sex marriages if they don’t want to. He says that guarantee is already enshrined in the state Constitution.
“That’s one of the points I’ve made in the past – that’s it’s about freedom to a certain degree on both sides. I mean, if the Church feels comfortable and excited about marrying two people that love each other, why should they be stopped from doing so? So this is the other side of that coin, I guess.”
Handy hopes his bill will get a boost from how President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage last year. “I think the national dynamic has changed a lot and that’s definitely been very beneficial. I mean, the president coming out for it, our whole congressional delegation now is in support of it. I think the elections have changed some of the folks’ minds over there as well.”
Handy says he attracted 32 co-sponsors for his bill by the close of the House session Wednesday.
A House committee could take up Handy’s bill as soon as next week. The last same-sex marriage bill was introduced in 2011. House Speaker Gordon Fox backed that measure before switching his support in favor of a civil union bill that became law.
The same-sex marriage legislation faces an uncertain outlook in the state Senate.
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