Same-Sex Marriage Proposed [Again] — Will It Pass This Time?

A Cranston legislator has submitted a bill in the state General Assembly to approve marriage for same-sex couples — and we're looking for your feedback.


Rhode Island now remains the only state in New England that forbids same-sex marriage — but that soon could change if the General Assembly votes to approve new legislation. 

On Jan. 3, legislation to allow same-gender couples to marry in Rhode Island was introduced in both the Rhode Island House and Senate, with a pledge from House Speaker Gordon Fox for a floor vote early in the session. Fox, the first co-sponsor of the House bill, is openly gay. 

The legislation has broad support, with 42 members of the House signing on as sponsors and 11 members of the Senate.

Among the Bristol and Warren delegations to the Assembly, Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) and Sen. Christopher Scott Ottiano (R-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) added their names as sponsors of the bills in their respective chambers.

Ottiano, in fact, was the only Republican in the Assembly to co-sponsor the legislation.

Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), the lead sponsor in the House who has introduced the bill annually for over a decade, explained in a press release that he hoped this would be the year that marriage equality becomes law.

“We are long overdue. Rhode Island, the colony founded on the principle of personal liberty, is now the only New England state that doesn’t allow same-gender couples equal marriage," said Handy. "Rhode Islanders recognize that same-gender couples deserve the rights and responsibilities that other couples already enjoy, and support has been getting wider every year."

The legislation is not only gaining support from proponents of civil rights, but also those in the wedding business. 

"Having it legalized, I think it will bring in more business and there's new publications you can advertise in. I'm sure it will help increase business," said Katie Wilkinson, event manager for the Glen Manor House, a location which hosts weddings throughout the year in nearby Portsmouth. 

"It's definitely an increase of business we could see. We have done several commitment services before." 

Rhode Island passed a law in 2011 allowing civil unions for same-gender couples as a compromise measure, but relatively few have taken advantage of it, and many have criticized civil unions as a less-than-equal offering to same-gender couples.


What do you think?

Is it time for Rhode Island to allow same-sex couples to marry? Will it result in a economic boost for small business?

Have your say in the comment section below.

First Congregational Church January 07, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Thank you, Ken and Chris, for co-sponsoring this bill. Pastor Dan First Congregational Church in Bristol
Marjorie McBride January 07, 2013 at 02:48 PM
I have no problem with it, however it's what is imbedded in the bill that should scare everyone. The bill it is not just about same sex marriage but also about binding arbitration for teachers. In a nutshell that means that if two sides don't agree on the terms of a contract and go to arbitration, the public is bound by the arbiter's decision. It takes away the public's power to negotiate.
Still Broke January 07, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Why not just put it on a ballot at the next election and accept the outcome; whatever it may be? Let the people decide. Bringing it back year after year reminds me of a kid who keeps asking his mother for something until she gets so wore down, she says yes. Keep it away from legislators who may change the outcome by adding other legislation to it.
Karen January 07, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Pastor Dan, while I realize that we serve a loving, forgiving God, is this really the scriptural definition of marriage, of what God intended of his people?
Joseph Hutnak January 07, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Hi Marjorie: I've attached the House bill to this article [the Senate bill has not yet been posted online], and it has no mention of binding arbitration for teachers — can you provide a source for your statement? Thanks, Joe
Still Broke January 07, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I was thinking the legislature or senate would probably not allow citizens to vote on this and came up with an idea: Can we find a representative or senator who would be willing to add a piece of legislation which forbids any new tolls in RI?
Ray DeForge January 07, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Ya know, I could really set this keyboard on fire, and go on and on about all sorts; butt I will try and keep it as simple as possible : It's not about "same sex marriage", nor "gay marriage", nor "homosexual marriage". It's about "marriage" - pure, plain and simple. In other words "Marriage Equality" Or to simplify it even more - EQUALITY. Equality was a major tennant in the formation of this Country. It is the foundation of our so-called "Democracy" (we are actually a 'representitive republic'). At least that was what I was taught at Liberty Street and St. Mary's Accademy when I was a kid. As an adult, experience has taught me something quite different; for, what we say is sometimes vastly different from what we do. So it is no surprise to me that when the Constitution says that "all men are created equal", it only applies if those men are straight. SAD! - the "Sausage King"
First Congregational Church January 07, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Wonderful question. If you would like to set up an appointment I'd be happy to explain my views further. Thank you!
Marjorie McBride January 07, 2013 at 08:45 PM
They plan on bundling the two bills together according to sources at the general assembly.
Joseph Hutnak January 07, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Marjorie: I'm afraid I have to ask again for a source for your contentions. I have very rarely — if ever — heard of the General Assembly "bundling" bills, which sounds to me like amending one bill with language about a completely different topic. The US Congress does that from time to time; I am not so sure about the Rhode Island General Assembly. Also, citing unnamed "sources" for a contention that the text of the existing bill does not support could put you in violation of your Terms of Use against posting "inaccurate, false or misleading" information. If you'd prefer, you can forward me this information vial email: joseph.hutnak@patch.com
Stephen January 07, 2013 at 11:01 PM
I agree. Give it same sex marriage the OK now then put it on the ballot for a general consensus. Get on with serious items like managing the availability of weapons that can destroy any marriage, any family, any time, any where.
Giordano Bruno January 08, 2013 at 03:29 PM
"I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." Red Shoes by Elvis Costello. Oh boy, this is what is foremost on the minds of the Smith Hill brain trust? Let the people decide, not the Gordobots. Can you say legislative grant (aka rub and tug) boys and girls?


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