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Posts for August, 2013

NOM Threatens To Demonstrate Its Own Irrelevance

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2013

The National Organization for Marriage has resonded to the arrival of marriage equality in Rhode Island and Minnesota today with another promise to retaliate against state lawmakers and roll back the clock:

With marriage having been redefined and same-sex ‘marriages’ beginning today in Minnesota and Rhode Island, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today reminded state politicians that it will work to hold them accountable to voters come election day. NOM has pledged to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that voters know who is responsible for redefining marriage.

…Virtually no politician in Minnesota or Rhode Island ran on a platform that openly pledged that he or she would redefine marriage if elected to office. Yet, when given the opportunity, they did so. NOM has pledged to spend up to $500,000 in Minnesota and $100,000 in Rhode Island informing voters about the issues.

“When the inevitable consequences happen, we will make sure that voters know who is responsible for them,” Brown said. “This issue is far from settled in either of these states.”

NOM’s track record for retaliation against lawmakers is, well, not very impressive. So all that money they’re pledging to spend in Minnesota and Rhode Island? Be my guest.

Petty tacky move by RI Senate Prez Paiva-Weed

Timothy Kincaid

July 3rd, 2013

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.

Rhode Island Did It!

Jim Burroway

May 2nd, 2013

Done:

Rhode Island’s House, led by Representative Gordon D. Fox, a Democrat and the country’s first openly gay House speaker, first passed a same-sex marriage measure by 51 to 19 in January. On April 24, the Senate approved a modified version by 26 to 12 that expanded protections for religious organizations. That change prompted today’s vote, which was largely procedural. It passed, 56 to 15.

and done:

Gov. Lincoln Chaffee signs the marriage equality bill into law.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Thursday signed a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the Ocean State.

“Today we are making history,” he said. “We are living up to the ideals of our founders.”

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Campaign Director Ray Sullivan, gay House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence) and other same-sex marriage supporters joined Chafee on the steps of the State House in Providence as he signed the measure into law.

Rhode Island will become the tenth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality when the law takes effect on August 1. All of New England, the Cradle of Liberty, is now a solid mass of equalityness. Interesting to note that four legislators took a last-minute opportunity to go from opposition to support in what was otherwise a procedural vote.

Marriage equality bills are also working their way through the state legislatures in Delaware, Illinois and Minnesota. Meanwhile, NOM’s Brian Brown remains in denial:

“I don’t know that I would say Rhode Island is a trend.”

Equality to come to Rhode Island on Thursday

Timothy Kincaid

April 30th, 2013

The Rhode Island House of Representatives will vote on Thursday to approve the minor changes made to the marriage equality bill by the Senate. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has announced that he will sign the bill on Thursday evening at 5:45 PM. Rhode Island will become the tenth Equality State.

GOP Billionaires lobby for equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 28th, 2013

We first became aware of American Unity PAC when a handful of Wall Street financiers who support Republican candidates decided that it was time that marriage equality came to New York State. And it was to a large extent their influence which resulted in the Republican Senate Majority Leader to bring marriage to a vote with enough Republican votes for passage.

Having had success locally, they’ve now decided to export their efforts to other states and to be proactive in lobbying for the cause. (WaPo)

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

I am certain their influence played some role in the five Republican Rhode Island Senators voting for equality and, as the vote in each of these states needs Republican support for passage, I am extremely grateful for their support.

Rhode Island Senator Flies His Freak Flag?

Rob Tisinai

April 25th, 2013

As Rhode Island pushes ahead with marriage equality, State Senator Harold M. Metts is dismayed:

Many from my community take exception to the attempts of the gay rights activists to hitch their wagon to the civil rights movement as it pertains to African Americans. I can change my sexual preference tonight if I want to, but I can’t change my color.

To which I reply:

Reaaaaly?

Senator Metts should explain his method for changing his preference. I had no idea his sexuality was so…fluid.

Rhode Island Senate Approves Marriage Equality Bills

Jim Burroway

April 24th, 2013

As expected, the Rhode Island Senate this afternoon gave its approval to a set of bills which will provide marriage equality to the Ocean State’s same-sex couples. In a historic first, the 26-12 vote included “yes” votes from all five of the chamber’s Republican senators. The Senators also rejected a proposed amendment which would have placed the question before voters.

Due to changes made to the Senate version of the legislation, it now goes back to the House, which had already approved an earlier version in January in a 51-19 vote. The House is expected to give its final approval to the legislation on on May 2, where it will then go to Governor Lincoln Chafee for his promised signature. 

Rhode Island will become the tenth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality when the law goes into effect August 1.

Rhode Island Senate Committee Advances Marriage Equality Bill

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

The Rhode Island state Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon advanced a bill allowing same-sex marriage and has sent the bills to the Senate floor. According to a press release from the committee:

The amended companion bills, sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) and Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), remove gender-specific language from the section of the general laws that governs eligibility for marriage. They insert language that allows any person to marry any other eligible person, regardless of gender, effective Aug. 1, 2013.

The bills (2013-H 5015B 2013-H , 2013-S 0038A) also reiterate constitutionally guaranteed freedom for religious institutions to set their own guidelines for marriage eligibility within their faith, and stipulate that under no circumstances will clergy or others authorized to perform marriages be obligated by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage. Additionally, a religious organization, association, or society, and any nonprofit institution operated, supervised or controlled by a religious or fraternal organization shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if they are related to:

  • The solemnization of marriage or the celebration of a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs and faith; and
  • The promotion of marriage through any social or religious program or services, which violates the religious doctrine of that religious organization, association or society.

The committee approved the legislation in a 7-4 vote. Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Providence) does not sit on the committee, but his position gives him the right to cast a vote if he so chooses. As expected, Ruggerio exercised that right and voted against the legislation. Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Newport) declined her right to cast a vote. The committee also voted down another proposal to place the issue before voters in a statewide referendum.

Rhode Island’s House of Representatives voted 51 to 19 to pass the bill bill last January. If the bills pass the Senate, they will be returned to the House for approval of the Senate’s changes. Governor Lincoln D. Chafee (D) has promised to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

The legislation is scheduled to be brought up for a vote in the Senate at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Earlier this morning, all five Republican Senators announced their support for the bills.

History to be made in Rhode Island

Timothy Kincaid

April 23rd, 2013

Freedom to Marry is reporting that a new threshold is about to be crossed.

Today all five Republicans in the Rhode Island Senate announced their support for S38, the marriage bill to end the statewide exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and their intention to vote for it on the floor. The bill passed easily in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in January, and the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a vote on it today. This will be the first time ever that a party caucus in a legislative branch — Republican or Democratic — will have voted unanimously in favor of freedom to marry legislation.

If the National Organization declares war on these Republicans – and they will – they are going to seem even less relevant in New England than they already do.

All Five Rhode Island Republican Senators Endorse Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

All five Republican Senators in Rhode Island’s 38-member state Senate have announced that they will support a bill granting marriage equality to same-sex couples:

(Minority Leader Dennis Algiere of Westerly) and Senator David Bates of Barrington plan to announce their support Tuesday morning for S 38, the bill introduced by Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket). The three other GOP senators – Dawson Hodgson of North Kingstown, Nicholas Kettle of Coventry, and Christopher Ottiano of Portsmouth — have already expressed their support for the Nesselbush bill. They call their support consistent with the Republican values of freedom and small government.

Algiere’s announcement is crucial. There were five announced supporters for S 38 in the ten-member Senate Judiciary Committee, and if Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Newport) and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Providence) exercise their right to vote against it, Algiere would cast the deciding vote. The National Organization for Marriage had been intensely lobbying for Algiere’s vote:

“I’m getting a lot of messages, about 100-plus phone calls and 100-plus emails each day. Some days, it’s been a few hundred,” he said, adding that the totals don’t tilt strongly in favor of either side.

…NOM’s lobbying effort has included a strongly worded full-page ad, headlined “Senator Algiere, We’re Counting on You!” in the April 9 edition of The Sun urging him to vote against the bill.

“It is critical that Senator Algiere cast a NO vote on SB 38. If he fails to vote for any reason, it is very likely that marriage will be lost and our marriage laws will no longer be designed to encourage children to experience the love of both a mother and a father,” the ad reads in part.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 23

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
France’s National Assembly To Cast Final Vote on Marriage Equality: Paris. After the French Senate gave its approval to a bill providing marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples, the bill returned to the lower house to ratify some of the changes made in the Senate after the National Assembly passed its version in February. The National Assembly began debating the final version of the bill last week, and its is expected to complete its work today with a final, final vote. It can’t come too soon. Anti-gay opponents to equality have been whipping up a violent backlash in recent weeks, with assaults on gay people being reported in several cities. Opponents have also threatened the life of the National Assembly’s president, and warn of “blood” and “civil war” if the bill passes.

Assuming the bill does pass the National Assembly as expected today, its next stop might be a referral to the Constitutional Council in an effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. That would happen if sixty Senators or sixty deputies agree to refer the bill to the Council. If that effort fails or of the Council clears the law, it will then be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal.

Delaware House to Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Dover, DE. Things are moving rather quickly in the First State. It was less than two weeks ago that a bill providing marriage equality was introduced in the Delaware House. Within a week, HB 75 quickly moved from the House Administrative Committee to the House floor. The bill has 17 House co-sponsors out of the 41-member chamber. Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) the bill’s primary sponsor, believes the House will approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

Rhode Island Senate Committee to Consider Marriage Equality Bill: Providence, RI. The state Senate is made up of 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent, so you’d think that a bill granting marriage quality to same-sex couples would be a sure thing, especially considering how easily it passed the House in a 51-19 vote in January. But the Senate is led by Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport), who opposes legalizing same-sex marriage and in years past vowed to block it from coming to a vote in the Senate. This year, she said that she would a committee to hold hearings on the bill, but she has previously ensured that the selected committee would deep-six any attempts to bring marriage equality to the Senate Floor. The bill today is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Providence Journal is having trouble reading the tea leaves:

 But the committee will vote on bills that are different from those introduced weeks ago. The new versions were posted Monday afternoon.

One bill, S 38, is now identical to its companion bill in the House 5015, Sub B. Both would legalize same-sex marriage and contain expanded protections for religiously affiliated organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.

The third bill, S708, would put the issue before voters. But it no longer includes protections for individual small business owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Hate Crimes Statistics Act Signed Into Law: 1990. Following strong support from the Administration and Congress, President George H.W. Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act into law in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building which, for the first time, included LGBT advocates, along with representatives from the ACLU, NAACP, and other groups that had criticized Bush’s record on civil rights. The LGBT representatives were invited only after agreeing not to turn the signing ceremony into an opportunity to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The law, which requires the Justice Department to institute a program to systematically collect hate crime statistics based on race, religion, ethnic background and/or sexual orientation, was the first federal law to specifically identify gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The Justice Department and FBI have been issuing annual Hate Crime reports since 1992. All reports from 1995 on are available on the web.

Sen. Rick Santorum’s “Man On Dog” Interview: 2003. In an interview printed in USA Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was in the midst of blaming the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals on liberals and the “right to privacy lifestyle” (which Santorum made abundantly clear that he did not accept), Santorum then cast his eye toward the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which would strike down sodomy laws later that summer. Santorum defended sodomy laws and lanched his most infamous polemic against gay families:

AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

The AP reporter wasn’t the only one freaking out. Dan Savage wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Santorum out for his blatant bigotry. Noting that Sen. Trent Lott had lost his post as Senate majority leader over remarks praising staunch segregationist Sen. Stromm Thurmond’s (R-SC) 1948 presidential bid, Santorum was assured of escaping this outrage with no sanctions. “Unlike the former majority leader, Mr. Santorum didn’t slip up and say something in plain English that every good Republican knows must only be said in code. Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt.”

Dan Savage, spreading the, er, word at the 15th Annual Webby Awards on June 13, 2011.

But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives–by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated:

Hey, everybody: We have a winner. Savage Love readers, by a wide margin, want Sen. Rick Santorum’s name to stand for… THAT FROTHY MIXTURE OF LUBE AND FECAL MATTER THAT IS SOMETIMES THE BYPRODUCT OF ANAL SEX! It was a landslide for that frothy mixture; the runner-up, farting in the face of someone who’s rimming you, came in a distant second. So congratulations to WUTSAP, who nominated that frothy mixture, and a big thank you to the thousands who voted.

The definition was created, but it still wasn’t obvious that Santorum’s name would be equated with the aforementioned byproduct. Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Hey, go sign my petition

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2013

You don’t have to live in Rhode Island or be a Democrat to insist that legislators live up to their duty. So please go sign my petition to remind the members of the Rhode Island Senate that the obstructionist behavior of Sen. Pavia-Weed reflects on all of them and, even, on those Democrats outside the state who assure us that we must vote for their Party if we want equality.

She needs to come to the side of equality or get out of the way. And if she won’t move, she needs to be moved.

Please. It only takes a moment.

Marriage update – North America

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

North America:

Canada - Marriage has been equal since 2005.

Mexico - Marriage is equal in Mexico City, and marriages conducted there are recognize throughout the nation. However, in December, the Supreme Court unanimously found that an anti-gay marriage law in Oaxaca was unconstitutional. Due to Mexico’s complicated legal system, this means that marriages are highly likely to eventually be legal throughout the nation, but the process requires that five same-sex couples in each state file an amparo (civil rights claim) and that the court issue the same ruling on each. It may take some time for the legality of the state by state process to catch up, but the reality is that any Mexican couple wishing to marry probably can, either immediately or through petition.

United States - Several locales provide or have provided marriage equally:

  • Massachusetts – 2005 2003
  • California – 2008, but rescinded that year
  • Connecticut – 2008
  • Vermont – 2009
  • Iowa – 2009
  • New Hampshire – 2010
  • The District of Columbia – 2010
  • New York – 2011
  • Washington – 2012
  • Maryland – 2012
  • Maine – 2013

In addition, two Native American tribes, the Coquille in Oregon and the Suquamish in Washington provide marriage equally to their members.

Current and upcoming movement on the marriage front includes:

* DOMA3 – several federal courts have found the federal prohibition on recognition of legally married same-sex couples – the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3 – to be unconstitutional on several grounds. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear one case, Windsor v. the United States, a case in which Edie Windsor was assessed in excess of $300,000 in inheritance tax from her wife’s estate, a tax that does not apply to heterosexuals. On Tuesday, the special counsel for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner) filed its arguments in defense of the law (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). It argued that BLAG has standing to support the law, that only rational basis should apply to anti-gay discrimination, that the nation needs uniform recognition, and that states should be allowed to decline to offer equality if they so choose (thus, I assume, vetoing other states in the name of uniformity). Today Professor Victoria C. Jackson will, at the court’s request, filing a brief insisting that BLAG has no standing and on February 26th, Windsor’s team will present arguments as to why she should not be discriminated against. Oral arguments before SCOTUS will be on March 27th, and the Court will likely release it’s ruling in June. Whichever way it goes, it will probably only impact couples in states which allow marriage.

* Proposition 8 - this is the highest profile case, but it could end up having the least legal effect. In 2008, the California Supreme Court found the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage to be a violation of the state’s constitution. For several months, same-sex couples could legally marry, but in November the voters approved Proposition 8 by 52%, ending marriage equality in the Golden State. In May 2009, Ted Olson, one of the most prominent Republican attorneys and David Boies, one of the most prominent Democratic attorneys, teamed up to fight for the legal overturn of that proposition. In January 2010, though cameras were banned from the courtroom, the nation was captivated by the reporting about the case – a trial not only on the legality of the proposition but also on its merits. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker eventually found the proposition to violate the US Constitution on broad grounds. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but on much narrower grounds: that a state cannot provide a right to all citizens and then take it away from a select few. Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, but added the question as to whether the proponents defending the law (the Governor and Attorney General declined to do so) have standing. On Tuesday the proponents of the law filed their brief (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). Olson and Boies have until February 21st to respond, and oral arguments will be on March 26th with a likely result in June. While the Court could find that the US Constitution guarantees marriage equality across the land, it could also choose to narrow its ruling to the unique issues of the case and only impact Californians.

* Rhode Island - on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the marriage bill. The full House voted in favor today 51-19. However, the Senate is less certain. Although Rhode Island is virtually a single-party state (the Senate has 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent), the Senate President, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is an opponent to equality. She has said that she will allow a committee to hear the matter, but in times past she has made certain that committees were selected to prevent equality.

I have started a petition at Change.org to request that should Paiva-Weed obstruct or block the passage of this bill, that Rhode Island State Senators remove her from power. Please go sign this petition.

* Illinois - a marriage bill was submitted during the first week of the year in a lame-duck session. Due to difficulty in corralling members returning from holiday, the vote never took place.

After the new legislature was is session, the bill was reintroduced. Currently the status is a bit in limbo as the bill is yet to be sent to committee.

However, that does not mean that there is no excitement, just that it’s happening outside the legislature and in an unexpected arena. The GOP chairman has come out in favor of marriage, which has angered social conservatives in the state. Bit though they are demanding his resignation and threatening ouster, the party insiders are lining up behind the chairman. At the moment it seem like the prevailing position may end up, “we may not support equality, but we support those who do.” In any case, this latest public squabble serves our community well.

* Minnesota - fresh off a victory in turning back an anti-marriage bill in November, Minnesotans for All Families is fighting on and will present a marriage bill to the legislature next month. The political strategist who generaled the battle is staying on to finish the war.

Polls are breaking even in the state and the DFL (Democratic) party has a slim lead in each house, so they will have their work cut out for them. But I would be surprised if the state did not take some movement towards couple recognition.

* Colorado - supporters filed an everything-but-the-name Civil Unions bill which is pretty much guaranteed to pass. More than half of each house has signed on as sponsors. This is as far as that state can go at present, as there is a state constitutional ban on equality.

* Wyoming - out of pretty much nowhere and flying way below the radar, lesbian Sen. Cathy Connolly has file both a domestic partnership bill and a marriage bill. Both have significant Republican support.

They may not be attracting much buzz on these bills due to party power; Republicans dominate both houses by overwhelming numbers. But Wyoming Republicans are traditionally pretty libertarian in their thinking and local papers are mostly quoting the bills’ Republican cosponsors. It may be early yet, but so far there doesn’t appear to be any visible organized opposition. I would not be altogether shocked if one of the bills passed or, at least, got a decent vote.

* New Jersey - the legislature of this state has already passed a marriage bill which was vetoed by the governor. However there are the paths to equality that might be achievable.

One is to take it to the people. But though a supporter brought such a bill, it was quickly dismissed due to the inherent insult of voting on a minority’s civil rights. (Personally, I’d rather win at the polls that fight over whether its an insult to do so.)

The second path, the one favored by equality leaders in the state, is to continue building support one by one until we have the numbers to override a veto. That would require substantial Republican support and this would be held off until after the next primary to minimize conservative backlash.

The third possibility doesn’t appear likely, but it shouldn’t be written off. Governor Chris Christie is a politician, and politicians are susceptible to evolution.

Christie made his mark in the Republican Party by being hard nose on fiscal issues but being more progressive on social issues. He was the poster boy for supporting civil unions, a position that made him seem ahead of the curve. As the Party moves away from anti-gay hostility, he may find it necessary to move as well. It’s not a bet I’d take, but it’s not outside the realm if possible for the Governor to hold to his views but still find some way to allow marriage to become law.

* Hawaii - I’ve no idea why marriage hasn’t already become law.

I think it can be hardest sometimes in states in which one party dominates. In mega-red states, we have little hope (though i just made a case for Wyoming). But in all-blue states, its not always much better. There’s no reason for Democrats to show the voters the difference between them and Republicans, so they fell less pressure to live up to their potential.

I’m sure I’ve missed some state in there. And, of course, you have to always expect that something completely unexpected will happen.

Tomorrow I’ll try to provide an update for Europe and South America.

UPDATE:

Yesterday, a state representative in Hawaii filed a bill for marriage equality. She had no cosponsors. Also yesterday, 15 representatives filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment banning equality. It was also introduced in the senate. Additionally, a state senator filed a pair of ‘take it to the people’ bills which would have voters choose to either allow or ban marriage in the constitution (he’s an opponent of equality). All in all, it looks dire for marriage in Hawaii.

Petition to replace Paiva-Weed if she blocks equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2013

Currently the Rhode Island State Senate has 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 1 Independent. I think it reasonable to assume that there is a majority of supporters of marriage equality on the Senate in that New England State. However, Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed has used the threat of her political power to squelch any efforts in prior years to enact equality.

She may allow the bill to become law, or she may wield her power – by means of committee assignments and political positioning – to hinder its passage.

I have just started a petition on Change.org to request that Rhode Island State Senators remove her from power should she block the access of some Rhode Islanders from access to civil marriage.

For years Senate Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed has used her position to squelch efforts to enact marriage equality in Rhode Island. Now a bill has passed the House of Representatives* and will come before the Senate. Should Paiva-Weed obstruct or oppose the equality bill, we ask that you replace her as Senate Leader with someone who values the merits of equality under the law and opposes discrimination.

Please take a moment to go and add your name.

Rhode Island House passes equality – live blog

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2013

I picked this up part way through. 1/24/13 1:56 (All times P.S.T.)

Right now, Rep. Corvese (D-North Providence) is ranting about “breaking the parameters of marriage”. He just recommended that you pick up What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts, a extremist publication of the hate-group MassResistance. He’s told us it isn’t about love or civil rights, that the Homosexual Activists aren’t discriminated against, and that trouble’s a-coming. Basically he sounds a lot like a Southern Republican more than a New England Democrat.

The House Speaker, openly gay Gordon Fox, has given Corvese extra time. I assume it’s out of courtesy and in respect that Corvese is on the losing side (both today and in history).

2:02 Rep. Blazejewski (D-East Providence), “Why would anyone want to prohibit two consenting adults from entering into a binding contract to protect their family? Why would you want to do that?”

2:05 Rep. Doreen Costa (R-N. Kingston), “The people don’t support this.” Presents a bunch of signatures… but didn’t she vote “yes” in committee.?

2:06 Rep Edwards (D-Tiverton), “Yes, Rep. Corvese, this is a game changer. For good.”

2:10 Rep McLaughlin (D-Central Falls) offers amendment (Corvese seconds) which I”m not sure what it says. “I fought on two continents. I’m a Roman Catholic. I believe in the Seven Sacraments. But it goes beyond religion. It’s a moral issue.” He’s babbling on about his specific Catholic doctrine. “We have rules in our society. We have rules in Church doctrine.” He’s babbling now, venting really, in an apologetic way. I kinda feel for this guy – he’s really trying not to offend, he’s keeps saying he should judge anyone. He’s just an old guy in a world that has changed in ways he hasn’t.

2:15 It seem’s McLauglin’s bill is to delete the wording and replace it with “marriage is between one man and one woman”. Under Rule 16 it was found out of order.

2:16 Rep Trillo (R-Warwick) “I supported the civil unions bill because I believe gays and lesbians deserve every right. But what I have a problem with is the word marriage.” “The terminology has been the same for 30,000 years. Marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman.” He’s okay with any other words, and thinks the other words will have the same credibility in 10 years as “marriage”.

2:20 Rep Ruggiero (D-Jamestown) “It’s about tax policy”. “Do this for your sons, daughters… whoever that gay person is whom you are thinking about right now.”

2:22 Rep. Tanzi (D-Narragansett) “I felt bad voting for civil unions for telling our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that their love was different.” “I’m proud to cast my vote for this bill with my daughter beside me…”

2:27 Rep Cimini (D-Providence) She said in testimony in support of equality three years ago, “I don’t want to get married, I don’t know why anyone would want to marry, but I know that no one will stop me.” She just got married.

2:28 Rep Almeida (D-Providence), “This IS a civil rights agenda!” He’s African-American and pissed about what Cervese said. “We were all divided. Not just my skin color, but go way back we all were.” “I remember in the Marine Corp there were a lot of gays and lesbians. I didn’t care when bullets were flying at me.”

2:31 Rep Mattello (D-Cranston) “We all have different religious beliefs in marriage. But that’s not what we’re debating today.” “Three years ago I would have been in opposition. But society has changed.” “If you were given heterosexual attraction by God, you deserve happiness. If you were given gay attraction, you deserve happiness.” “We’re just making the law catch up with where society already is.”

2:37 Rep Newberry (R-N. Smithfield; Minority Leader) “They’ve said this is a civil rights bill. And I agree, that’s why I’m voting for it.” “But this has come up seven years, and it has deserved an up or down vote.” He went on to lecture the Senate and insist that they vote and not let it be a bargaining chip. He’s angry.

2:40 Rep. O’Neill (D-Pawtucket) “It’s a historic day… Enjoy this piece of history.”

2:42 Rep. Ferri (D-Warwick) “It has been a journey getting to this point.” To Speaker Fox: “You have class”. Speaking about his husband “I guess we have to get married now. But we’ve had a ‘marriage’ for 32 years. Call it what you want, but who else in this room had a marriage of 32 years.” He spent time pointing out people “this is for Tony, this is for…”

2:45 Rep Handy (D-Cranston) “I’ve evolved on this.” “I’ll be brief.” He hasn’t been.

2: 48 THEY ARE VOTING

51-19 passes

Lots of applause

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