2013-01-24 / Editorial

Time to allow same-sex marriage

Rhode Island lawmakers are again considering legislation that would permit same-sex marriage.

Rhode Island already recognizes same-sex marriages that have been performed in other states and allows gay couples to obtain civil unions – although there are a number of exemptions.

But gay marriages are not currently permitted. The marriage-equality bill would change that.

Controversial as the topic may be, our nation’s attitude toward gay marriage has been slowly changing over the past decade. Already, nine states have approved same sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.

A bill that would allow gay marriage in Rhode Island has been introduced every year for the past 10 years. The legislation that is under consideration by the General Assembly would affect secular law, not religious law. In other words, churches in Rhode Island would not be compelled to recognize gay marriage if the measure becomes law.

Some churches do favor gay marriage. A Rhode Island Episcopal bishop recently spoke out in favor of the gay-marriage legislation.

The proposed legislation before the General Assembly would impact the civil rights of gay couples, allowing them the same marriage rights and benefits that are currently granted to heterosexual couples. That is an important step.

As proposed, this legislation would continue our nation’s long-standing efforts to eliminate discrimination so that no matter what a person’s age, race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, all are treated equally and fairly.

Last year a poll conducted by Brown University showed that 56 percent of Rhode Island voters support gay marriage and only 36 percent opposed such a measure.

It’s time for the General Assembly to approve gay marriage. Our state representative, Deb Ruggiero, has expressed her support for the legislation. Meanwhile, our state senator, Teresa Paiva Weed, is not in favor of the marriage-equality bill.

Call, write or e-mail our state lawmakers and let them know where you stand on the issue.

— Jeff McDonough

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