Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Ramping Up Grassroots Campaign in Home Stretch

Apr 18, 2013

With a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on same-sex marriage legislation expected as soon as next week, the group leading the campaign in favor of legalization says it plans to deploy more than 300 people this weekend to knock on doors and make phone calls.

Ray Sullivan, the head of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, says the stepped-up effort is meant to connect constituents in key Senate districts with their legislators "to carry the message and the banner that it's finally time to pass marriage equality."

As RIPR recently reported, Rhode Islanders United is running a highly organized grassroots campaign. Sullivan says the number of people working on the cause this weekend -- mostly volunteers -- is about three times the previous force. He adds:

"Our ground game, connecting real people with their legislators and telling those very real and personal human stories, is what is propelling this movement forward. It's changing minds, and we think it's been one of the most effective tools that we've employed."

Sullivan says the stepped-up grassroots effort, part of an incremental campaign, will continue until the Senate takes up the relevant legislation.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed recently signaled plans for votes on same-sex marriage legislation by the Judiciary and full Senate. It appears there are sufficient vote on the Judiciary Committee to move the bill backed by same-sex marriage supporters to the full Senate.

The committee vote might come as soon as early next week, although it's possible it could come later. A leading discussion topic among lawmakers is the extent of religious and other exemptions in two competing same-sex marriage bills, one of which calls for a statewide vote to decide the issue.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and the National Organization for Marriage's RI chapter have rallied behind the referendum bill. Like those on the other side of the  issue, they've also supported efforts to lobby lawmakers against same-sex marriage. Christopher Plante, the head of NOM-RI, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.