Paiva Weed commits to committee vote on same-sex marriage; referendum amendments expected

Dec 17, 2012

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says there will be a vote on same-sex marriage in the Senate Judiciary Committee this year.

In an interview in her office this afternoon, she said:

Certainly, it will be an issue that will be before the Senate this year .... There will be a vote in Judiciary on the issue.”

The development comes after House Speaker Gordon Fox previously pledged to call a House vote on same-sex marriage early in the 2013 session. In 2011, Fox angered some supporters of the issue by backing what he called a compromise in support of civil unions.

Paiva Weed discussed the prospect of a committee vote in a series of separate interviews with reporters.

She offered no prediction on the outcome of the vote. Paiva Weed contextualized her statement as coming after Senate Judiciary chairman Michael McCaffrey -- who faced a feisty primary challenge from Laura Pisaturo, a same-sex marriage supporter -- "previously stated that he anticipates this issue will come before Judiciary for a vote."

As part of legislative consideration, Paiva-Weed says she expects amendments that would make legalizing same-sex marriage contingent on a statewide vote -- a move sharply opposed by Rhode Island's leading advocacy group on same-sex marriage.

She said:

"In light of the outcome of referendums in Maine and in Maryland,  I anticipate that the concept of initiative or referendum will probably be more thoroughly debated this year than in past years."

Marriage Equality RI reacted to the news regarding a committee vote with this statement:

“We are both excited and grateful that the Senate President has decided to schedule a Judiciary Committee vote on marriage equality in 2013, following the House’s expected passage of this historic civil rights legislation. We will continue to actively reach out to legislators on both sides of the aisle and grow our broad coalition of supporters in the House and Senate.

Today’s news is another positive step in the right direction, but we won’t stop until the work of winning equal rights and recognition under the law for all loving, committed couples is complete, with legislation signed into law by Governor Chafee.“

This post has been updated.