From WPRI comes an odd little story that illustrates the tacky pettiness of Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed.
For many years Paiva-Weed stood in the way of the Ocean State’s Senate voting on marriage equality. But earlier this year, after the Senate’s five Republicans joined with a large majority of Democrats, Pavia-Weed could stand in the way no longer and Rhode Island joined all of its New England neighbors in marriage equality.
But that certainly didn’t stop her from being petty.
Rhode Island has an odd little procedure that they use throughout the year. Individuals who are otherwise not authorized to conduct marriages get special permission to be one-time officiants. It’s a formal process, but it’s generally a non-controversial and all-in-one-fell-swoop kind of procedure, called “Consent Calendar”.
For example, it might say something like this:
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, Jessica Attorney, Esq., of Barrington, Rhode Island, may join Joe Fellow and Sally Sweet in marriage within the City of Providence, Rhode Island, on or about November 30, 2013. Jessica Attorney, Esq., is hereby authorized and empowered to join the foregoing persons in marriage pursuant to and in accordance with chapter 15-3 of the general laws, entitled “Solemnization of Marriages.”
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.
But something out of the ordinary took place this time.
On Wednesday night, Senate leaders used the consent calendar to quarantine the solemnization-of-marriage bills for same-sex couples from those for straight ones.
Consent Calendar #2 contained 11 bills, all of which appeared to authorize marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Consent Calendar #3, by contrast, contained 23 bills – 15 of them allowing marriage ceremonies for straight couples, plus eight bills on other topics passed earlier by the House.
The Senate voted 30-0 shortly after 8 p.m. to pass Consent Calendar #3, but then Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, moved on without taking up Consent Calendar #2, leaving the various same-sex couples’ solemnization-of-marriage bills in limbo.
I can understand those who ideologically oppose equality out of some misguided fear about how same-sex marriage might impact society. But to deny specific same-sex couples the officiant of their choice is just contemptible.