lip service

3 Rhode Island Gubernatorial Candidates Will Commit to Gay Marriage. OK, Then What?

If elected governor of Rhode Island, three candidates hoping to replace the termed-out heterosexist Gov. Don Carcieri promise to support marriage equality. But what does “support” mean?

Attorney General Patrick Lynch (pictured) and General Treasurer Frank Caprio (both Democrats) and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (an independent) have agreed to sign a pledge drafted by Marriage Equality Rhode Island saying they’re on board for marriage equality. (John Robitaille, a Republican candidate, hasn’t responded to MERI, though his office says he never received its calls.)

That is: awesome. It is also: the definition of lip service.

And without further promised action, Marriage Equality Rhode Island might actually be helping these candidates secure the gay voting bloc without actually having to make good on their commitment. Or at least give it much thought during the election, like how they’ll work with state legislators to generate suport.

It’s like walking into a car dealership offering one of those “sign and drive” leases. Just put your pen to paper, and everyone gets behind you, even if you plan on returning — or totaling — the car three weeks after driving it off the lot.

Given the situation in Rhode Island, where Carcieri remains a rabid foe to gay rights, and lawmakers have been punting on the issue for years, it’s easy to see the move as a success. But we’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again, unless we’re willing to demand more than campaign promises.