Nesselbush: openly gay pols have bolstered support for same-sex marriage

Jan 31, 2013

Nesselbush predicts the Senate will pass same-sex marriage this year.
Credit Ian Donnis

State Senator Donna Nesselbush says the emergence of openly gay elected officials has paved the way for growing public support of same-sex marriage.

Nesselbush, an openly gay Pawtucket Democrat, points to the political durability of Congressman David Cicilline, House Speaker Gordon Fox, and state Representative Frank Ferri as a sign of increasing public tolerance for same-sex rights.

As it happens, Rhode Island has proved a haven for Nesselbush since she came to Brown University as an undergraduate. She says she found a tolerant atmosphere that was quite different from her upbringing near Buffalo, New York.

"I come from a very staunch Catholic background, and I have three older brothers, so when I discovered this issue in college, there was one place I was not going and that was home,"  she said during a taping Thursday of RIPR's Bonus Q+A. The segment airs Friday at 6:40 and 8:40 a.m.

"It's kind of interesting with our history with Roger Williams -- Rhode Island was a haven for me.  I was able to be out at Brown; it's such an amazing and welcoming place and that really set the stage. You know, once I was out at Brown, there really was no going back as I transitioned into a professional life here in the state."

The lawyer predicts the Senate will pass same-sex marriage in this session. During a taping of RIPR's Political Roundtable (airing Friday at 5:40 and 7:40 am), she said:

"I say to my colleagues, 'Don't be on the wrong side of history.' I see my colleagues as fair-minded people who really want civil rights for Rhode Island and again, I think when the roll is called, we'll have the votes."