Change happens slowly in politics. Except when it doesn’t. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains the forces behind Rhode Island’s reversal on gay marriage.
The Ocean State is poised to become the 10th state in the nation to recognize same sex marriages and join our five New England neighbors in the vanguard of the movement for equal treatment for our gay citizens.
Ray Sullivan, the head of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, joins the Roundtable this week to discuss the state Senate vote in favor of same-sex marriage; concerns about the impact on religious institutions; how the battle was won, and other issues.
The gallery of the Senate erupted in cheers when the chamber voted by a margin of two-to-one to legalize same sex marriages. The House overwhelmingly approved the same legislation in January. Senate bill sponsor Donna Nesselbush of Pawtucket who is openly gay called it an issue of historic importance.
"To each and every senator in this room," Nesselbush said, "the eyes of the nation are upon us and we are poised to become the 10th state in the nation to join the force for equality that is sweeping our great nation."
Rhode Island is on track to become the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages. The state Senate has overwhelmingly approved two nearly identical bills that would legalize such unions. The bill could go to the governor for his signature as early as next week.
The Rhode Island Senate approved two virtually identical same-sex marriage bills by a 26-12 margin Wednesday afternoon. The bills still face certain House approval and a signature from Governor Lincoln Chafee, meaning Rhode Island is poised to become the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as next week.
The votes happened with surprising speed after a 17-year effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, filling the Senate chamber and its exterior with scores of joyous supporters.
Tuesday was a remarkable day in Rhode Island politics. First, the five-member GOP contingent in the 38-member state Senate -- including the chamber's low-key minority leader, Dennis Algiere -- offered its unified support for same-sex marriage. Then, and much more significantly, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio found himself on the wrong side of a key vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rhode Island is now on the cusp of legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on a 7 – 4 vote. A bill putting the issue up for referendum was defeated by a 6 – 5 vote.
The vote was greeted with jubilation by same sex marriage supporters gathered in a Statehouse hearing room. Supporters say they’re hopeful the committee vote signals full Senate approval. The bill will go to a full Senate vote Wednesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to weigh in on same-sex marriage on Tuesday. Rhode Island Public Radio Political Analyst Scott Mackay talks with us about the significance of the scheduled vote, and what to expect from legislators.
All five Republicans in the 38-member Rhode Island Senate - including Minority Leader Dennis Algiere of Westerly - plan to support the same-sex marriage bill backed by supporters of the issue, RIPR has learned.