Same Sex Marriage Heads to Rhode Island Senate - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


Same Sex Marriage Heads to Rhode Island Senate

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis


Same-sex marriage may be closer to an up or down vote in Rhode Island.

Senator Frank Ciccone has introduced a bill that would let voters make the decision in a ballot referendum.

That's what gay marriage opponents want.

Chris Plante of the National Organization for Marriage said, "We're pleased. We've asked that the people have the chance to vote. 75 percent of Rhode Islanders have said they want to vote on marriage."

But lawmakers who support same-sex marriage, say it is their job to decide.

State Rep. Art Handy (D) Cranston, who sponsored the House bill said, "The legislature has really been elected to lead. We just had an election back in November. I know I talked to my constituents about the issue. They told me clearly they wanted to see this."

So far the house has approved same-sex marriage, but the senate has not acted.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The latest version of the bill would allow religious institutions to opt out of same sex marriages, but it would let businesses do the same.

If a restaurant did not want to host a gay marriage, or a florist didn't want to provide flowers, they could decline on religious grounds.

Chris Plante from the National Organization for Marriage said, "People who run their businesses and who run them by their religious beliefs, ought to be protected."

State Rep. Art Handy, (D-Cranston) said, "I'd certainly be opposed to those kinds of protections. I think in the end, we have anti–discrimination laws on the books today that wouldn't allow that to happen. I wouldn't want us to step backward in that way."

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the same sex marriage bills next Thursday.


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