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.