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Committee approval 'giant step' for same-sex marriage
House will vote on bill Thursday
The official tally sheet for the House Committee on Judiciary vote on the same-sex marriage bill. Rep. Lima, who arrived late, also voted in favor.

The 12 members present at Tuesday’s House Committee on Judiciary meeting voted unanimously in favor of the same-sex marriage bill sponsored by Cranston Rep. Art Handy. The only member absent for the vote was Rep. Donna Walsh of Charlestown, who previously voiced her support of the same-sex marriage bill.

The bill is scheduled for a vote by the full House on Thursday. Many inside the House of Representatives have expressed their confidence that the bill will pass this session.

For proponents of same-sex marriage, the unanimous decision to send it to its first-ever floor vote was a major milestone. In the 17 years that similar legislation has been introduced, this week was the first time it was voted on in committee since 2001. In 2001, then-Rep. David Cicilline was the only legislator to vote in favor of it. Never before has it made it to a full floor vote.

Rep. Art Handy, who has sponsored similar marriage equality legislation for the past 11 years, said he was honored to be a part of such a monumental moment.

“I was excited about the history of the moment and the role I was playing in it,” he said shortly after the committee vote, which was greeted by a standing ovation of the spectators present in the room.

Handy said he felt overwhelmed by the unanimous support from the committee, especially on an issue that he and so many of his colleagues hold close to their hearts.

“‘Important’ seems like an understatement,” he said.

“It’s so emotional,” said Rep. Frank Ferri, who welled up with tears when the Judiciary Committee voiced their unanimous approval of the bill. “It’s very personal to us.”

Ferri, who testified with fellow marriage equality supporters Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo at last week’s hearing, has been with his husband, Tony, for 32 years. The two were married in Canada in 2006.

Ferri recalled the decades-long struggle that homosexuals in Rhode Island have faced. He recounted how a civil rights bill passed just 18 years ago in 1995 granted homosexuals equal opportunities for employment and housing, something that ended 11 years of lobbying for equal rights.

“Today didn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Ferri, who called the vote a “giant step.”

Governor Lincoln Chafee issued a statement shortly after the committee’s approval of the bill, saying he is pleased to see the same-sex marriage legislation move forward. He referenced his recent State of the State Address, in which he called the marriage equality issue a “civil rights issue” and an “economic development issue.”

“We are at an economic disadvantage with our neighboring states when we do not ‘have the welcome mat out’ for all those who want to work here and contribute to our economy,” he wrote in a statement. “Rhode Island already lags behind all of our New England neighbors on this issue; we should swiftly remedy that for the good of our economy and the rights of our citizens. With this afternoon’s vote, we are one step closer to the day when gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders can enjoy the same fundamental rights, benefits and privileges as all other citizens of our state. It is my hope that that day will come soon. I urge the leaders of the House and Senate to call the roll, and I will be proud to sign this important legislation when it reaches my desk.”

But proponents of marriage equality tried not to get too excited following Tuesday's vote.

“We’re not taking anything for granted,” said Laura Pisaturo, a Warwick resident and former Senate candidate. “We look forward to continuing the conversation and debate in the Senate.”

Before the bill has a chance of getting to the Senate floor, it first needs to be heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, whose chairman, Warwick Senator Michael McCaffrey, has maintained his position that marriage is “between a man and a woman.”

It was McCaffrey that Pisaturo unsuccessfully challenged in the September primary.

Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, echoed Pisaturo, in saying that they’re getting closer to making marriage equality a reality in Rhode Island, but aren’t there yet.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “This is the beginning of the process of … finally winning this fight.”

Pisaturo, Sullivan and Ferri all expressed their gratitude to Speaker Gordon Fox, House leadership and Rep. Handy for the help in the marriage equality debate.

At about 3 p.m. Tuesday, after roll call and the consideration of several solemnization of marriage bills, House Judiciary Committee chairwoman Rep. Edith Ajello turned her attention to House Bill 5015, the marriage equality bill.

“This is a truly historic moment,” she said.

Ajello said that those who argued against the bill just last week at the public hearing often brought ideas of religion into the discussion.

“This is a separation of church and state issue,” said Ajello, noting that the bill allows religious groups and organizations to decide whether or not to perform same-sex marriages. “There are good religious people on both sides of this.”

Those who testified in favor of the marriage equality bill last week spoke about their personal experiences in same-sex relationships, or about the relationships of those they know and love.

Those who testified against marriage equality argued it was not a civil rights issue, and that civil unions already allow same-sex couples the equality they seek. Opponents also argued that marriage, by definition, is between a man and a woman, and that homosexual unions violate “natural order” because they cannot produce children.

During last week’s hearing, a rally in the Rotunda raged in opposition to same-sex marriage, but at Tuesday’s vote, it appeared that the opposition was mostly absent. The crowd present exchanged hugs and dried tears after the vote; only one man was overheard asking Rep. Doreen Costa of Exeter, “What happened?”

Of course, the committee’s vote only allows the full House the chance to discuss and debate the bill now, something that has never been done before. There is no date set for when the Senate version of the bill – sponsored by the openly gay Senator Donna Nesselbush – will be heard in committee.


Comments
3 comments on this item

Great news that the House passed the bill by a wide margin. I hope the Senate follows through and does the right thing by passing marriage equality, and soon!

“So, who are you going to marry when you grow up, a man or a woman?”

Some reading this comment string will find this statement inflammatory or even "hateful," a term that proponents of gay marriage regularly hurl at their opponents. But whether you're for or against the legal recognition of "gay marriage'' and whether you admit it or not, eveyone reading this comment string knows that such a question will become more common with time, if the legislature falls victim to the propaganda of gay activist groups and votes to legally recognize gay marriage. Indeed, in states with gay "marriage," children as young as kindergarten are exposed to educational curricula that either implicitly or directly states that same-sex behavior is a normal form of human sexual expression, even though the facts (summarized below) concerning the medical, psychological, and sociological issues of this behavior, prove the exact opposite.

This why their demand for gay marriage is so extremely insidious and selfish and why prominent politicians, like Obama or Chafee, voicing support for gay marriage is so blatantly political because they care more about winning elections than what’s best for the country and are too intellectually dishonest and lazy to bother checking into the serious harms of same-sex behavior and how gay marriage would seriously exacerbate these problems. Instead, they’re perfectly content to have gay activist groups spoon feed them their propaganda, which totally ignores these problems in pursuit of their egregiously harmful and selfish agenda.

One such problem is how homosexuality and what results from that behavioral urge – same sex behavior - is partially due to cultural influences, according to peer-reviewed research. So having gay marriage and politicians voicing support for it is a powerful influence on those whose genetics and biology (the other factors, besides cultural, which impart a tendency for but not a guarantee of homosexuality) make them more vulnerable than others to becoming homosexual or engaging in the behavior.

Children, of course, are especially vulnerable to such an influence because they’re still growing, maturing, forming who and what they are, and thus vulnerable to whatever adults tell them. This is especially true for females, whose sexuality is more fluid than males, and is therefore even more vulnerable to the insidious and egregious propaganda of gay activism.

The reason is what will happen if children or adults are so unfortunate as to fall victim to this type of influence. It will be,

An elevated risk for bodily damage and/or serious disease

Serial promiscuity, even in committed relationships, including “married” ones

An elevated rate of divorce, ranging from 1.5 to 2.7 times of heterosexuals

High incidences of emotional and mental illnesses, even in countries like the Netherlands, which totally accepts homosexuality as being the equal of heterosexuality

Greater rates of domestic abuse among committed male homosexuals.

None of these facts originate from sources that oppose gay marriage or gay rights. Rather, they originate from peer-reviewed research performed by respected, mainstream, and apolitical research organizations, such as UCLA, USC, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and others. A summary of this research and a list of these peer-reviewed references is in the essay linked here:

http:\\marriage-onemanandonewoman.blogspot.com

Please read this information and email it to as many as you can and ask that they do the same. Further, most importantly, we must vote against gay marriage, demand that our legislators do the same, and vote them out of office, if they don't. In this way, we can keep marriage between one man and one woman and prevent your children from having to hear, “So, when you grow up, who are you going to marry, a man or woman?”

SO, What exactly does this guy Handy do for a living? Looks like his bio is full of "no-show" little work jobs all dealing with the State, quasi-public agencies or non-profits, all intended to avoid any scrutiny. Typical RI pol...A job a year since he's been in the GA...Hire some real investigative reporters, the Providence rag is useless and headed for sale or chapter 11.

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