Rhode Island Considers Gay Marriage

providence_capitolIn New England, if you want to jump the broom, first, you’ve got to jump the states. If you’re from Rhode Island, the smallest, most adorable state in the Union and you want to get married, if you’re gay, right now that means hopping in a car, riding over to Massachusetts and then coming back– great for getting folks to leave their teeny, tiny state, but also, a pointless hoop to make gay people jump through. A new bill, which would enact gay marriage in Rhode Island, is up before the State Senate and would bring gay marriage home for Ocean Staters.

However, even in liberal Rhode Island, the political reality is that where there’s a gay marriage bill, you’ll find an anti-gay-marriage bill. The state’s Republicans are looking to close the loophole that allows gays and lesbians to marry out of state and are running radio ads that ed in a little boy saying, “I want a Mommy and Daddy.” The Rhode Island gay marriage bill means that all the New England states either allow gay marriage, or are considering bills that would legalize them.

The Boston Globe writes

“One bill being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday would allow same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island. Another would outright ban gay marriage and prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex couples as married.

Rhode Island law is currently silent on the issue.

A third bill before the committee would allow same-sex couples who wed out of state to get divorced in Rhode Island. That bill was inspired by a 2007 state Supreme Court decision that blocked a lesbian couple who lived in Providence from obtaining a divorce.”

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  • RDM

    Rhode Islanders are blessed with being able to cross TWO borders to get gay-married. Connecticut got on that bus a few weeks before we in CA got off.

  • me

    Um…we Bay Staters have had gay marriage for 5 years. I think you mean the Ocean State.

  • Sebbe

    Yeah I was thinking the same think, the “Bay State” is Massachusetts. Rhode Island is “little Rhodie” or the “Ocean State”.

    This really was inevitable and I’m glad the dems are finally making their move. Northern Rhode Island is essentially part of Mass and Southern Rhode Island part of Connecticut (there have been proposals throughout its existence to split it up).

    It is a very nice state (that I lived in for a little while), but the size of a mere county elsewhere in the country. Isn’t Rhode Island also the “most Catholic State” in the country?

    Go Rhodies. Besides think about it, Newport and Providence, the state is ideal for gays!!

    O.K. – Now I’m craving a Del’s lemonade, if your from Rhode Island you feel me!!

  • Jason

    I’m a Rhode Islander born and bred and although I’ve moved elsewhere, I love it like almost noplace else. Newport and Providence are great cities and for the most part have only gotten better in the past twenty years. I certainly hope it follows its neighbors on this.

  • Dub Not Dubya

    Actually, it’s overly simplistic to say that the push for an anti-marriage equality bill comes from the state’s Republicans. The lead sponsor of the DOMA bill in the Senate this time around happens to be a Repub, but several Democrats oppose marriage equality, too, including the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. The Republicans have almost no power in the state legislature because they compose only about 10% of it. But our state’s Democrats are not by any means all friends of the LGBT community. (We also have some Republicans who do support our community, like the mayor of our second-largest city.) It is going to require much more education of the voters (so that cowardly rank and file legislators will feel safe supporting us) and more electoral work to get marriage equality legislation passed, and it will require a new governor (in two years) to get it signed.

  • Sebbe

    Does anyone know, I for some reason thought that marriages performed in Connecticut and Massachusetts where recognized in Rhode Island? Of course this is needed within their own state. I was just curious because that was the impression I was under and just thought how nice it would be if everyone only had to drive 15 mins (from Providence) from their home to obtain a legal marriage elsewhere in the country. Of course we shouldn’t have to even go the 15 mins and leave the state borders, but if anyone is aware of the status presently I am curious.

  • jason

    my partner and i live in rhode island, and we got on i-95 for like 1 exit to seekonk, mass., to get married 2 years ago. as of now, the current standing of mass. weddings in r.i. is unclear. according to mass., the marriages should be legal in rhode island, but rhode island law is currently silent on the issue. it’s weird, but (just like new mexico), rhode island doesn’t have a marriage law at all. hopefully now, they will!!

  • Sebbe

    It is also worth noting the the largest (and really the only) city and Capital of Rhode Island – Providence, is led by openly and highly popular Mayor David Cicilline. Whom I believe was the first out mayor elected to a state capital??

    @Dub not dubya – First cool name, second, what is RI’s second largest city? Warwick, East Providence?

  • hardmannyc

    ^^^ And Cicilline is is in line to be governor. After the debacle in California, gay marriage looks to be happening geographically, southward from New England. Ironic, considering that this was once the most socially conservative part of the country (“banned in Boston”).

  • Dub Not Dubya

    Hi Sebbe, thanks for the props on the name. Warwick is the second largest city, followed by Cranston, and I’m not sure after that. And yeah, David Cicilline is the first openly gay mayor of a state capital. But the pronouncements that he’s a good shot to be elected governor are way premature. There are several strong Democratic contenders (all of whom support us; most of them strongly, but one of the leading contenders is fairly wishy-washy but will probably do right by us if push comes to shove), and the state has an unfortunate tendency to elect Republican governors to balance the Democratic General Assembly. Cicilline has also had some political and ethical problems that lessen his chances.

    As far as whether same-sex marriage is recognized in RI, Jason is right that the status is unclear at best. Some couples have had some success in having their marriages recognized by business and government. But there was a recent heartbreaking story of a case where a gay man, married in Connecticut, went through a Kafka-esque bureaucratic nightmare trying to claim the remains of his deceased husband. Here’s are a couple of links for that:



  • Sebbe

    @Dub not Dubya – Thank you soo much for providing the links. The letter to Senator Whitehouse brought tears to my eyes and anger to mind.

    I admit that I have too often been ignorant to the plight of my brothers and sisters in Rhode Island. Having lived in CT, RI and MA, I often forget how welcoming and accepting of a place we live in here in southern New England and how overall all three states have much to be proud of.

    I think there is a common misconception in both MA and CT that while not official in law, that Rhodies lack of marriage definition and opinions by several government officials (i.e. the Attorney General)had created an environment of de facto equality with the mere inconvenience of driving to the Cape, the Vineyard, Boston or more recently Mystic to get the piece of paper. Clearly that is not the case and your big brothers up in Boston need to help out more and sit on the T for 45 mins.

    I plan on attempting to organize some boyz (and ladies?) to take the commuter rail down to Providence so that we may help out at future events and will be contacting Marriage Equality RI tomorrow.

    I have always found Rhode Island to be a very progressive state and by far the majority of people to be very forwarding thinking. I believe equality is within reach in RI and hope we can bring attention to this here in the “Bay State”.

    I was quite happy when Whitehouse defeated Chafee. Do we know if he has responded to this letter. Has he made his position clear at home or stayed silent.

    Again thank you for the update and additional information.

    **If I had to make one complaint about the RIers, it would be that going anywhere more than 20 mins away is considered far. LOL

    & I’m still waiting for the Del’s lemonade. hehe

  • Dub Not Dubya

    Hi again. Sen. Whitehouse is supportive of same-sex marriage and has said so publicly. Likewise Rep. Patrick Kennedy (Ted’s son). Our other two Congressional representatives, Sen. Jack Reed and Rep. Jim Langevin, are not there yet. Chafee actually was/is publicly supportive, too, but I’m also glad he’s gone. (Although he too may run for governor, but as an independent.)

    Thanks for the support!

  • Sebbe

    @Dub not Dubya – an independent governor of Rhode Island? Unlikely, but like you said above, I wouldn’t make to many assumptions or predictions on anything concerning RI politics. Hey maybe Buddy will run!!! LOL

    I have tried to reach Marriage Equality RI to find out how we can help to little avail so far. I have also sent an email and hope to get a response. Are you aware of anything coming out we may be of help with. I’ve gotten a mostly positive response from friends I’ve contacted.

    Although I think one is only willing to come if we can stop by Pastiche before we head back up. LOL

  • Dub Not Dubya

    Hi again. I can’t speak for MERI, but my guess is that they are so busy getting ready for Thursday’s hearings that they’ve put responding to other requests on the back burner. Their main contact addresses are [email protected] and [email protected] if you want to try that. They have one of those Constant Contact email lists that they use to tell people about events, so I’m sure they’ll be glad to put you on it. Their blog is at http://marriageequalityri.wordpress.com/ and in fact they’ve linked to this very post from one of their recent posts. :)

  • Condenser Dryer

    i think that gay marriage should be allowed in certain states but not in other states ”`

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