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Posts for October, 2010

NOM’s filing was a mess

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2010

Last week the National Organization for Marriage sued in Federal court, claiming that they should not be subject to Rhode Island’s political expenditure disclosure laws. The court was not impressed (Boston Globe)

U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi said that the lawsuit from the National Organization for Marriage is disorganized, vague and poorly constructed. The judge said the relevant allegations were “buried” in the lawsuit.

Lisi dismissed the lawsuit, but said the group has the option to refile it by Wednesday.

Why am I not surprised.

Another Student Suicide?

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2010

Campus Pride issued a press release announcing a possible fourth suicide of an LGBT student. The latest case involves Raymond Chase, a Johnson & Wales University student in Providence, Rhode Island. He had reportedly hung himself in his dorm room on Wednesday, Sept 29.

I would urge caution in jumping to conclusions about what may have led to Raymond’s suicide at this time. Campus Pride says, “The suicide of this openly gay young man is for reasons currently unknown,” but urges action be taken to address youth bullying and harassment.

NOM sues to keep the donors behind their political campaigns a secret

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage really really doesn’t want anyone knowing what handful of mega-bucks donors are behind their political advertising. So, as is their usual methodology, they are suing the State of Rhode Island claiming that the handful of individuals and groups they are fronting for have the right to unaccountable and secret “free speech.” (NECN)

A group that opposes same-sex marriage sued the Rhode Island Board of Elections, saying it wants to run ads in the governor’s race and other contests but doesn’t want to have to comply with state campaign finance laws.

The National Organization for Marriage said in a federal lawsuit that it should not be forced to report its expenditures or comply with spending limits or bans that are required for political action committees. The group said it shouldn’t be considered a PAC because it’s not controlled by a political candidate and does not spend the majority of its money on Rhode Island’s political races. It says the rules for PACs are burdensome and interfere with free speech.

They consistently lose these cases, but they refuse to report until they appeal, a process that drags on through election season after election season. Eventually some judge is going to get so annoyed that he holds Brian Brown in contempt. And then, I suppose, we will find out who really is the source of NOM’s funds.

Rhode Islanders support marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 19th, 2010

Greenburg Quinlan Rosler has conducted a poll of Maine Rhode Island residents for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders about marriage attitudes in Rhode Island. Although this is a gay-sponsored poll and I have a problem with one part, it does not appear to be conducted in a way that would provide significantly invalid results.

The first 15 questions were either demographic or related to general political issues. Then there were several questions on gay issues. The first three were:

Now, I’d like to rate your feelings toward some people and organizations, with one hundred meaning a VERY WARM, FAVORABLE feeling; zero meaning a VERY COLD, UNFAVORABLE feeling; and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred, the higher the number the more favorable your feelings are toward that person or organization. If you have no opinion or never heard of that person or organization, please say so.

16. Gay and lesbian people

45% responded with warm feelings
18% responded with cool feelings
61% the average response number

17. Gay rights groups

35% responded with warm feelings
27% responded with cool feelings
52% the average response number

18. Currently there is a bill being considered in the State General Assembly that would allow equal access to marriage for same-sex couples. Churches, clergy and other religious institutions would NOT be required to perform same-sex marriages. Do you favor or oppose this bill?

34% – Strongly favor
23% – Somewhat favor
12% – Somewhat oppose
20% – Strongly oppose
10% – (Don’t know/refused)

I’m not sure to what extent that the warm/cold questions influenced the answers on marriage. As they were not particularly leading, I doubt by much. And “allow equal access to marriage” is somewhat more likely to yield positive results than “allow same-sex couples to legally marry”, but again this may not be consequential.

However, I do think that reminding participants that religious institutions are not required to perform same-sex marriages can play a roll in driving polling results. Though on an issue this divided, perhaps not by more than five or six points and then likely would mostly show movement between the “favors” and “don’t knows”.

So even with this poll’s flaws, I think it is probably fair to say that a majority of Rhode Islanders support marriage equality and that opposition to same-sex marriage in Rhode Island is weak.

And probably the most important contributor to the support in Rhode Island is found in question 30:

Do you personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian?

79% – Yes
19% – No

Rhode Island GOP welcomes gay Republicans

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2010

From the Providence Journal:

The state GOP welcomed a new caucus Wednesday night: The Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and lesbian conservatives committed to “changing the GOP from the inside, while advancing Republican ideals of personal liberty and fiscal responsibility.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille was among the speakers at an event hosted at the Providence restaurant, Twist on Angel, organized by new caucus chairman, Raymond Beltran, a 26-year-old Community College of Rhode Island student.

“The perception of the GOP being bigoted and narrow-minded — at least in Rhode Island — is hopefully coming to a close,” Beltran said. “We’re a very different breed in Rhode Island in many ways. We have one of the most forward-thinking Republican parties in the country.”

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

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.

Rhode Island Governor Says He’s Open To Domestic Partnership Law

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2009
Gov. Carcieri speaking at the Massachusetts Family Institute banquet

Gov. Carcieri speaking at the Massachusetts Family Institute banquet

Last Tuesday, Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri (R) vetoed a bill that would have added domestic partners to the list of people who are allowed to make funeral arrangements for each other. Now the Providence Journal reports that “a conciliatory” Governor Carcieri told a gay-rights group that he is willing to consider an “almost anything but marriage” domestic partnership law. Carcieri reportedly said this after meeting privately yesterday for more than an hour in his office with a representatives of Queer Action of Rhode Island. Carcieri reportedly cited the domestic partnerships law that won voter approval in Washington as a possible model:

“I don’t know enough, yet. All I am saying is I understand the circumstances. I understand the difficulties” that can arise for same-sex couples and others — such as widows living with widowers, and widows with other widows — outside the legal framework of a traditional marriage.

“Let’s see if we can find a way to solve that without discreet [pieces] of legislation every time something comes up. I just don’t think that is the right way to deal with it,” he said.

Following Carcieri’s veto, Queer Action issued a statement calling him a bigot and said that his repeated claims “that he does not discriminate against gay people” was proven to be a lie by his veto. Susan Heroux, spokesperson for Queer Action, said, “First, the governor raises money for an anti-gay hate group in another state, and now he proves that he is motivated more by bigotry than caring for his fellow citizens with this veto action.” Carcieri was the keynote speaker at a banquet for the Massachusetts Family Institute on October 15.

Heroux was pleased with the yesterday’s meeting with Gov. Carcieri. Also present at the meeting was Mark Goldberg, whose five-week battle with the Rhode Island Health Department to claim the body of his partner of 17 years from the state morgue, had sparked the legislation. The state refused to release the body despite all of the legal paperwork — wills, living wills, power of attorney and a marriage certificate from Massachusetts — that Goldberg had provided. Carcieri said he could not understand the Health Department’s handling of the case, and would ask his staff to look into it.

The bill to allow domestic partners to make funeral arrangements for each other passed the state house on a 63-1 vote, and passed the Senate unanimously. House and Senate leaders are considering an override of the governor’s veto.

Rhode Island Won’t Even Protect Dead Gays

Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2009

Rhode Island Governor Carcieri (R) today vetoed a bill that would add domestic partners to the list of people who are allowed to make funeral arrangements for each other. Citing the qualifying factors for a domestic partnership, Gov. Carcieri said in his veto statement:

A one (1) year time period for any relationship is not a sufficient length of duration to establish a serious, lasting bond between two (2) individuals to supplant the surviving individual over traditional family members relative to the sensitive personal traditions and issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights, and disposal of human remains. Many casual relationships last for longer than a year.

True, he has us there. Newt Gingrich’s first casual marriage lasted nineteen years, as did his second known casual relationship. His third casual relationship is nine years and counting, but if his current “wife” expires before their relationship does, Gingrich will be fully empowered to determine the disposal of her human remains.

Gov. Carcieri concluded:

…Finally, this bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue. If the General Assembly believes it would like to address the issue of domestic partnerships, it should place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the state of Rhode Island decide.”

Tim Horton’s Drops NOM Fundraiser

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2009

According to this statement:

Recently, Tim Hortons was approached in Rhode Island to provide free coffee and products for a local event, as we do thousands of times a year across Canada and the United States.

For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.

For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.

It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event.

Tim Hortons and its store owners have always welcomed all families and communities to its restaurants and will continue to do so. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.

Congratulations! Your calls and emails made a difference.

Popular Doughnut Chain Sponsors Anti-Gay Fundraiser

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2009

The Providence Daily Dose is reporting that Tim Horton’s, a popular Canada-based doughnut chain with hundreds of franchises in the Northeast and upper Midwest of the United States, is sponsoring the  National Organization for Marriage’s “Celebrate Marriage and Family Day” fundraiser on August 16 in suburban Providence, Rhode Island.

Tim Horton’s is simultaneously Canada’s largest coffeehouse chain and largest doughnut chain, and has had an expanding presence in the United States for more than a decade. The chain’s corporate policy bans sponsoring “individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endorsements or traveling sports teams.” However, there’s a loophole in that policy, which allows local franchisees to donate as they please. Which means that their corporate policy has no teeth to it whatsoever. You can contact Tim Horton’s to let them know what you think of their policy.

Update: Tim Horton’s pulls out of the fundraiser.

Four Lesbians Arrested For Assault on Anti-Gay Activists

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2009

There are idiots on both sides:

The salsa and eggs stopped flying, but the police continued to investigate. Now four young women face charges of assault and disorderly conduct. They’re accused of hurling food and drinks and spraying pepper spray at a group of men who stood in the median on Bald Hill Road and East Avenue Tuesday afternoon carrying signs supporting traditional marriage, Capt. Robert Nelson said Thursday morning. The men all gave the police an address in Spring Grove, Penn. — 1358 Jefferson Rd. — that’s the location for the Foundation for a Christian Civilization Inc., a group that’s in the midst of a caravan along the East Coast. The group states on its Web site that they make themselves “visible to motorists by engaging them to support traditional marriage.”

…Thursday evening, the police arrested four women: Melissa Migliaccio, 22, Amanda L. Zangrilli, 23, Kristen A. Scungio, 19, and a 17-year-old female from Pontiac Street in Warwick, whom the police have not named because she is a juvenile. All are charged with at least one charge of battery or simple assault, and with disorderly conduct. The 17-year-old faces a more serious charge as well — felony assault with a dangerous weapon or substance, according to the police.

The Providence Journal updated that story early this morning:

Amanda L. Zangrilli, 23, of West Warwick, said she and her girlfriend had seen the men in the same spot for a few days, and had “every intention” of bringing opposing signs of their own. Then, Tuesday afternoon, Zangrilli said, she and her girlfriend, Kristen A. Scungio, 19, also of West Warwick, saw the men again. She says they were pointing at the women, in a way that told her they realized the two were gay. Her girlfriend threw the soda bottle out the window –– missing the man she threw it toward, just as she had intended. “We heard him yell, ‘Ha ha, you missed,’ ” Zangrilli said.

The two drove to a friend’s house, gathered whatever they could get their hands on and returned with the friend. Zangrilli and Scungio said the men yelled at them when they returned, calling them the Antichrist, homosexuals and sinners. The men shouted anti-gay slurs at them, the women said, and one pushed his camera into Scungio’s face; she “pushed it away on instinct.” “And then the flagpole guy raised his pole to me, and I turned around and punched him because I wasn’t sure what he was going to do,” Scungio said. “I was wicked scared. It turned into, like, a riot.” Another woman driving by, an acquaintance of the women, jumped into the fray.

Members of the Catholic group deny using anti-gay epithets. But whether they did or not, these women acted like idiots. Getting into a physical brawl over words and signs is never justified, not under any circumstances. Committing assault is wrong no matter how anyone tries to justify it, and beyond that it is immensely stupid.

This incident will now become a huge part of the anti-gay arsenal: see how violent they all are? For months, anti-gay activists have characterized the Prop-8 protests as “violent” even though no one has been able to demonstrate that a single violent act was perpetrated by LGBT protesters or their allies. But now they have this, handed to them on a silver platter.

Morons.

By the way, Rhode Island appears to have a very robust hate crime law that protects on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation. This might quality. After all, these people were assaulted for legally expressing their religious belief.

Rhode Island Senate Votes for a Single Domestic Partnership Right

Timothy Kincaid

June 3rd, 2009

Domestic Partners may be recognized in Rhode Island. But only once they are dead.

Providence Journal:

the Senate on Tuesday approved a bill giving “domestic partners” the right to claim the bodies of — and make funeral arrangements for — their loved ones.

A domestic partner is defined in the measure as “a person who prior to the decedent’s death was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the decedent.”

This is important in that if it passes the House, the State of Rhode Island will recognize that same-sex couples do have exclusive, intimate and committed relationships and that they are worth consideration. While this is not much compared to their neighbors, it’s a start.

And the story behind this bill shows all too clearly that the claims that “gay people can get the same rights through contracts and legal documents” is a cruel lie.

Mark S. Goldberg told a Senate committee about his months-long battle last fall to persuade state authorities to release to him the body of his partner of 17 years, Ron Hanby, so he could grant Hanby’s wish for cremation — only to have that request rejected too because “we were not legally married or blood relatives.”

Goldberg said he tried to show the police and the state medical examiner’s office “our wills, living wills, power of attorney and marriage certificate” from Connecticut, but “no one was willing to see these documents.”

He said he was told the medical examiner’s office was required to conduct a two-week search for next of kin, but the medical examiner’s office waited a full week before placing the required ad in a newspaper. And then when no one responded, he said, they “waited another week” to notify another state agency of an unclaimed body.

Rhode Island Strongly Supports Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

May 27th, 2009

The legislative leadership of Rhode Island is working in conjunction to ensure that the state’s gay citizens are denied equality. (AP)

Bills legalizing gay marriage have been introduced in the Statehouse every year since 1997, but none has been approved by a legislative committee. House Speaker William Murphy and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, both Democrats and Catholics, oppose gay marriage, and Republican Gov. Don Carcieri — another Catholic — would likely veto such a measure.

However, they do so against the strong wishes of their constituents.

A Brown University poll showed 60 percent of registered voters in the state said they would support a law allowing gay couples to marry, and 75 percent said they would support a law allowing civil unions. Thirty-one percent said they would oppose a gay marriage law.

The startling figure of 77% of Democrats favor a marriage equality bill. I think it is time that the leaders of the Democratic Party in the state of Rhode Island put the desires of their constituents ahead of the political careers of a few politicians. The need to tell leadership that unless they cease obstructing equality that they will not get the Party’s support or endorsement.

Rhode Island Hearing on Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

May 12th, 2009

Tomorrow the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on two bills concerning marriage.

Scheduled for a hearing is a bill (2009-H 5744) sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) to broaden the definition of persons eligible to marry to include persons of the same gender. It also provides that members of the clergy would not be required to officiate at any particular marriage.

Also scheduled is a bill (2009-H 5068) sponsored by Rep. Jon D. Brien (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket) to submit to the electors a proposition to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a lawful union between one man and one woman.

Neither is likely to be enacted.

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