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Will Rhode Island consider marriage equality?

Timothy Kincaid

February 11th, 2010

Gordon Fox, the majority leader in the Rhode Island House of Representatives has just been elected Speaker of the House. (Projo.com)

Gordon D. Fox was elected as the state’s first black and openly gay House Speaker, moments after West Warwick Democrat Willliam J. Murphy relinquished the helm on Thursday.

Murphy, a fellow Democrat, was an ardent foe of marriage equality and helped ensure that the issue never reached a vote on the floor. Fox was non-specific about any sort of time-frame, but it is clear that he favors marriage equality for the state.

He has been guarded about where he stands on some of the more volatile issues the 2010 legislature is likely to face, including casino gambling and gay marriage.

An openly gay man, Fox says he is “in a long-term relationship, but not officially married … When I get married, I would like to do it in my home state.”

Fox said he was reluctant to make a hard-and-fast commitment to bring the issue to the House floor for a vote after Murphy leaves, without “a lot of internal discussions.” But, “we should have equal marriage rights in Rhode Island … That would definitely be something on a personal level I would like to see.”

The decision may rest, in part, on the results of the upcoming gubernatorial elections. Fox may be reluctant to expend political capital if he fears that an equality bill would be vetoed. (SJ Merc)

Both Democrats running for governor and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, an independent candidate, will publicly pledge to sign a gay marriage bill if elected, gay rights activists said Monday.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch and General Treasurer Frank Caprio, the Democrats, and Chafee have been invited to make their promise public at a Statehouse rally scheduled for March 3, said Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

Kushnir said Republican candidate John Robitaille has not returned her calls, although Robitaille said he was never contacted by Kushnir’s group. He opposes gay marriage but would consider supporting a domestic partnership system for gay couples.

In any case, it is likely that Rhode Island will move in the direction of couples recognition in the fairly near future.

Comments

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Richard W. Fitch
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Doesn’t RI already have a gay rights bill? They are allowed to bury their dead partner.

Tony P
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

RI has had full employment, credit and housing protections for LGB since 1996, LGBT since 2001.

We just recently were granted the right to bury our deceased.

But we cannot marry the person of our choosing which would have obviated the need for the funeral bill.

I think we’re going to see a major push for it this year, 2010. If we can’t get it through the house with a gay man as the Speaker then we never will.

cd
February 13th, 2010 | LINK

The problems amount to the Senate Majority Leader, who iirc opposed gay marriage legalization. And the population of the state, which splits about 50/50 on the matter (though I would guess slightly in favor of legalization).

Patrick Garies
February 13th, 2010 | LINK

@”… would *consider* supporting a domestic partnership system…”

I always hate when politicians make statements like this; he can’t be attacked for saying that he doesn’t support /some/ state recognition for same-sex couples and still has the wiggle room necessary to veto any domestic partnership legislation after he’s “considered” it.

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