Hearing draws supporters, opponents of same-sex marriage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Supporters call legalizing same-sex marriage the right thing to do. During a House Judiciary hearing yesterday on related legislation, they also say it would stimulate an economic windfall for Rhode Island.

Providence real estate agent Jim DeRentis says almost all of Rhode Island's 40 largest companies offer benefits to same-sex couples or ban discrimination based on orientation.

"They figured out long ago that when their employees feel they and their families are recognized and valued they will be more productive and successful at work, which has a direct correlation to the company's bottom line," DeRentis says. "Happy employees equals a stronger company."

Opponents say that legalizing same-sex marriage would further destabilize traditional families.

And National Organization for Marriage director Christopher Plante says the momentum is on their side.

"The ball is slowing down if not going backwards," Plante says.

Plante says there is overwhelming opposition in the General Assembly to same-sex marriage but he declined to name names to back up that claim.

The Judiciary Committee was expected to hold the legislation for further study. The state Senate is considered the main hurdle to legalizing same-sex marriage.

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