Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Tout Victories in Election
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Rhode Island will see more same-sex marriage supporters in its legislature than at any point in history in 2013, according to Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) executive director Ray Sullivan.
Sullivan, who led the pro-same-sex marriage PAC Fight Back RI, and other advocates watched Tuesday as Democrats Adam Satchell, Catherine Cool Rumsey and Ryan Pearson were all elected to the State Senate, which is still considered the largest road block to passing a gay marriage law.
"The fabric of our country changed yesterday,” Sullivan said. “From local legislative and Congressional candidates, all the way up to President of the United States, those who embraced equal rights, recognition and respect for all Americans were resoundingly chosen to lead our state and nation.”
Sullivan specifically thanked House Speaker Gordon Fox, who has pledged to bring a same-sex marriage bill to a vote early in the 2013 legislative session. Fox survived a heated race against Independent Mark Binder, who, among other issues, criticized the Speaker for settling on a civil unions bill in 2011.
Fox has argued that passing the civil unions bill was the only way to build the foundation to bring gay marriage to the table in the Ocean State. As of August, only 68 couples in the state obtained civil unions.
Both Fox and Sullivan have also said they are against placing same-sex marriage on the ballot, an issue the more conservative Senate may push for in 2013. Maine, Maryland and Washington all approved same-sex marriage and voters in Minnesota shot down a proposal to ban same-sex marriage in its constitution.
“It is never appropriate to allow the majority of voters in a state to determine the freedoms of a minority group – that’s the job of our courts and legislatures,” Sullivan said. “And to that end, we are emboldened by the momentum of this election cycle will steadfastly work to make 2013 the year that Governor Chafee finally signs marriage equality into law."
During his campaign, Fox said he is opposed to placing civil rights issues on the ballot.
"I am committed, should I be re-elected, to bring marriage equality legislation to the House floor for a vote early in the next session,” he said. “The fundamental rights of a minority group of citizens should not be subjected to a divisive ballot initiative. Legislators are elected to lead and make decisions, and this is an issue that should be debated and ultimately decided by the people's representatives in the General Assembly. I am now, and have always been, opposed to placing civil rights issues on the ballot."