Gay Marriage Hearings in Rhode Island Set for February 26
The fight for marriage equality in the Ocean State will be front and center on Thursday,February 26, as the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony pertaining to two bills - one prohibiting same-sex marriage and the other granting equal access to marriage for same-gender couples.
S0136, introduced by anti-gay Senator Leo Blais (R-Coventry), would amend the state constitution to limit the definition of marriage as "the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
In addition, the measure would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Blais has sponsored similar legislation in the past and has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage.
S0147, introduced by Senators Rhoda Perry (D-Providence), Susan Sosnowski (D-New Shoreham), Juan Pichardo (D-Providence), Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), and Charles Levesque(D-Bristol), would allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill also guarantees protection of freedom of religion in marriage, stating:
"No court or other state or local governmental body, entity, agency or commission shall compel, prevent, or interfere in any way with any religious
institution’s decisions about marriage eligibility within that particular faith’s tradition."
"Anything less than full marriage equality is discrimination," Miller said. "This is about your friends, neighbors, and relatives being discriminated against."
The hearing will begin at approximately 5 pm in the Judiciary Committee meeting room at the Statehouse in Providence.