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Political Outlook: Time for RI to Support Same-Sex Marriage

Monday, February 27, 2012

 

A Same-Sex Marriage Bill will be introduced in Rhode Island this year, according to Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

With recent polls showing that a majority of voters support legalizing Same-Sex Marriage – in addition to Maryland on the cusp of becoming the eighth state in the nation to legalize marriage equality – the issue is at the forefront of local and national news.

That said, Rhode Island politicians should embrace this groundswell of public support,and move the Ocean State beyond Civil Unions by supporting the legalization of Same-Sex Marriage.

A key reason for supporting marriage equality is that voters are in favor of it.

Majority Support Same-Sex Marriage

More Rhode Islanders support Same-Sex Marriage legalization than oppose it by a nearly double-digit margin, according to a 2011 Public Policy Poll.

Even more noteworthy about these findings is that amongst Democrat and Independent affiliated voters, nearly three out of five support legalizing Same-Sex Marriage. This is significant because according to Gallup, the vast majority of Rhode Island voters either affiliate as Democrat or Independent.

The issue is also gaining popularity with voters nation-wide.A recent New York Times/ABC News poll found that 63 percent of voters support recognizing same-sex relationships in some capacity. Moreover, of that 63 percent, by a nearly two-to-one margin they favor legalizing Same-Sex Marriage versus passing a Civil Unions law.

Politicians are taking note, and pushing for passage of Same-Sex Marriage Laws across the country.

Two noteworthy elected officials who are behind this nation-wide effort are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Furthermore, both are well positioned to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Cuomo: “There’s no logic” in naysayers’ argument

Governor’s Cuomo and O’Malley both are not only siding with the majority of Americans on this issue, but are also mastering how to vocalize their support for it.

For example, after championing passage of a Same-Sex Marriage bill last year, Governor Cuomo was asked about his support for the issue during a recent interview with GQ Magazine.Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage in New York regularly argued that gay people should not get married because they can’t make babies.

In response to this argument by Same-Sex Marriage opponents, Governor Cuomo states:

“Oh, really? So then we should change the law to say, ‘Only people who can and want to make babies can get married.’ So an infertile man can't. A woman who can't, she can't get married. People who don't want to make a baby, they can't get married. So let's change the law so it says, ‘Only people who can and will make babies.’ ‘Well, we don't want to do that. You can get married if you don't want to make a baby or if you can't—except if you're gay!’ There's no logic.”

While Governor Cuomo asserts the illogical nature of arguments in opposition to Same-Sex Marriage, Governor O’Malley has framed it as an issue of dignity.

O’Malley: “Love is an Unalienable Right”

Governor O’Malley is currently in the midst of a Same-Sex Marriage legislation battle. And, he is slated to sign the bill into law next week, according to the Associated Press.

Throughout this debate in Maryland, Governor O’Malley has framed the issue as one of “human dignity” and “equal rights.” After passage of the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012 last week, Governor O’Malley put out a statement that included:

“The common thread running through our efforts together … is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual. Love is an unalienable right.”

The language used by both Governor O’Malley and Governor Cuomo reinforces that a populist platform this year is key to political success. And, as both celebrate high approval ratings, they serve as proof that valuing public opinion – whether you’re an elected official in New York, Maryland, or Rhode Island – can translate into political success.

Therefore, politicians in the Ocean State should support a bill that legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in 2012.

Brett Broesder is the former Policy and Legislative Director for the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General. He also served as the campaign manager for Peter F. Kilmartin’s successful Attorney General run in 2010, and is currently a public relations consultant in New York, NY. He can be reached at [email protected].

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