Sides form on Rhode Island same-sex marriage measure

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March 16, 2011

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: Sides are beginning to take shape in what could be a controversial ballot issue if sent to the ballot in the 2012 general election. The measure under the spotlight, the Rhode Island Marriage Amendment, may appear on the 2012 ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. There are currently two bills, according to reports, introduced to the Rhode Island Legislature that would put the issue of marriage before voters. One proposal, sponsored by State Senator Frank Ciccone, would change the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, but would allow civil unions for same-sex couples. Another proposed ballot measure, proposed by State Senator John Tassoni, would amend the state constitution to say that only marriage between a man and a woman would be recognized in the state.[1]

On the supporting side of the amendment, the Reverend Bernard Healey of the Catholic Diocese of Providence stated, “Our position to protect the definition of marriage is not an act of discrimination or bigotry but rather an acknowledgement of those united as husband and wife to have their marriage be a distinct relationship."[2]

On the opposing side of the proposal is the openly gay State Representative Frank Ferri, who spoke in front of the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing about the bill, stating, "I'm here because I deserve every single right that you have. This is about equality. I don't pray to the same God that you do apparently because my God accepts me."[2]

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