Rhode Island Marriage Amendment (2012)

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The Rhode Island Marriage Amendment did not make the 2012 ballot in the state of Rhode Island as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. There were two bills, according to reports, introduced to the Rhode Island Legislature that would have put the issue of marriage before voters. One proposal, sponsored by State Senator Frank Ciccone, would have changed the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, but would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples. Another proposed ballot measure, proposed by State Senator John Tassoni, would have amended the state constitution to say that only marriage between a man and a woman would be recognized in the state.[1]

However, a bill was introduced on January 6, 2011 that would forgo a ballot vote and would instead legalize same sex marriage in the state. The bill was proposed by State Representative Arthur Handy and State Senator Rhoda Perry. A similar bill was introduced at the Rhode Island Statehouse by State Representative Jon Brien.[2][3]



  • 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."[4]



  • Openly gay State Representative Frank Ferri, 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."[4]

Path to the ballot

Section 1 of Article 14 of the Rhode Island Constitution says that the Rhode Island General Assembly can initiate the process of amendment "by a roll call vote of a majority of the members elected to each house."[5]

On March 10, 2011 the Senate Judiciary Committee planned to hold hearings on multiple bills pertaining to same-sex marriage, including the measures that would be sent to the ballot.

See also