On Tuesday 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 Tuesday. 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.
“Today’s showing of support illustrates the irreversible shift in Republicans’ understanding of why marriage matters to same-sex couples and their families,” said Tyler Deaton, campaign manager of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. “Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons as anyone else – to take vows in front of their loved ones, to protect their families, and to share in the responsibilities that marriage brings. As the Republican Party continues to evolve, these elected officials’ united stance sends a clear message to the rest of the GOP: stand on the side of marriage and the right side of history.”
Ed J. Lopez, a Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry leadership committee member who is National Vice Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, said: “Rhode Island Republicans are leading the way to a more inclusive GOP — one that can continue to grow and stay relevant as America changes. Their actions today show that not only do they know the freedom to marry is completely in line with conservative values like personal liberty and the importance of family, they are working to make it a reality.”
The Committee was scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. in Room 313 of the State House on Tuesday.
The three pieces of legislation that were under consideration at the April 23 meeting:
- (2013-S0038) , sponsored by Senator Donna M. Nesselbush (D – Dist. 15, Pawtucket), to permit same-sex marriage in the state and deem those who had entered into civil unions as married;
- (2013-S0708), sponsored by Senator Frank A. Ciccone, III (D – Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), proposing a constitutional change to permit same-sex marriage if the constitutional amendment is ratified by the voters; and
- (2013-H5015A), sponsored by Representative Arthur Handy (D – Dist. 18, Cranston), the House version of Senator Nesselbush’s bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a lengthy public hearing on both Senate bills on March 21.
For some background, SB 38 was introduced on January 16, 2013 as follows:
Rhode Island Senate Bill
AN ACT RELATING TO DOMESTIC RELATIONS — PERSONS ELIGIBLE TO MARRY (would change terminology on marrying from gender based to non-gender based, it would address prohibitions to marriage, redefine the term marriage, address other state and federal law recognition and applicability in how the state of RI).
Text of the bill is located here: Rhode Island Marriage Equality.