Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Manhattan Declaration - On Marriage Part 2

     This is a continuation of my discussion of Chuck Colsons Manhattan Declaration. If you have not already read the first part, I would encourage you too. I will start at where I left off, about three paragraphs to the end of the marriage portion of the document. It states,

We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being "married." It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it? On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships? No. The truth is that marriage is not something abstract or neutral that the law may legitimately define and re-define to please those who are powerful and influential.
    This section of the document is a rather weak defense against the "marriage equality is not harming your marriage" argument. In response, Colson and all attempt to say that because gay and lesbians are allowed to get married it WILL affect all marriages. Do they in fact say anything substantial regarding this claim? Not at all, for instead they go back  to the time tested claim that because gay people will be able to be married, that the state must legalize polyamourous, polygamous, and incestuous relationships. Could they offer any other sort of defense? Absolutely not, for they know that there is no defense to this ridiculous assertion. For if your marriage could be affected by allowing John and Trevor down the street to marry, you yourself have a pretty pathetic marriage to begin with. This argument, by blatantly saying that these other types of relationships will necessarily have to be recognized, sounds good, but in reality offers no real substance. There are fundamental differences between same-sex marriage and the three listed above - most generally the distinction of conduct v. orientation as well as genetics. Regardless this paragraph alone fail because it does not offer us anything to discuss, it only throws around an oh so scary argument. Next we see...

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow. First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as "marriages" sexual partnerships that many parents believe are intrinsically non-marital and immoral. Third, the common good of civil society is damaged when the law itself, in its critical pedagogical function, becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends. Sadly, we are today far from having a thriving marriage culture. But if we are to begin the critically important process of reforming our laws and mores to rebuild such a culture, the last thing we can afford to do is to re-define marriage in such a way as to embody in our laws a false proclamation about what marriage is.
     Here, in the second sentence, Colson starts diving into the realm of circular reasoning.  For he explains that gay people should not be able to be married, because what they are doing isn't marriage. Ummm...ok bud, strong argument there. Offer us a little more substance than, you cant call it marriage because I don't think thats what marriage is. Next he goes into the three "harms" that will occur if the government does not accept the heterosexual definition of marriage as supreme.

    First, he claims that the religious liberty of individuals is harmed. Does he give any explanation of this fact, or does he just make a blatant assertion. I go with the former, for he never gives us any reason why religious liberty is harmed. Could it be harmed because some people who do not believe in marriage equality will have to exist in a culture that allows it? If that is a denial of religious liberty, then those of the Christian Right are already living in a culture that denies them their religious liberty. Thus, I think that every Christian should up and move themselves to some desert island so they can live according to "God's Law" whatever that may be. Also, what about those religious groups that find same-sex marriage to be acceptable, such as the Episcopal Church and the United Metropolitan Church. Is it not a denial of their religious liberty to exist in a society that does not approve of marriage equality? Food for thought. In conclusion to this point, I would like to point to what the Supreme Court of Canada (yes I know its not U.S.) had to say about the granting of rights to gays and lesbians...They stated in their reference regarding Same-Sex Marriage that, "the mere recognition of the equality rights of one group cannot, in itself, constitution a violation of the rights of another."

    Second, Colson claims that the rights of parents in regards to children's education about sexual issues is threatened. To this I have one response that I am not going to sugar coat. It sure as hell is buddy. No longer should parents be able to instill in their children hatred and animosity towards a particular people group. No longer should parents be able to teach their children that their is something inherently wrong with LGBT people, for that only leads to the bullying and hatred that we see in todays society.  Also, if in reality it is THAT big of a deal for the parents, have them homeschool. Basically, put your money where your mouth is.

     Third, Colson claims that the "marriage culture" of society will be harmed by legalizing same-sex marriage. I still do not understand, and maybe he could explain it better - though he has done a bad job so far - how one group wanting to be married and enter into that bond somehow harms the "marriage culture".  I'm just not understanding.  And the declaration goes on...

And so it is out of love (not "animus") and prudent concern for the common good (not "prejudice"), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture. How could we, as Christians, do otherwise? The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God's creation covenant. Indeed, the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and his church. And so just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.

     This is the conclusion of what the Christian Right claims. It is out of love for us LGBT people that they do what they do. I just have one challenge to them. Tell that to the thousands of children who are being incessantly bullied every day because of your rhetoric. Because of your goal to stop the "normalization" of homosexuality and keep it in the closet, children are attacked maliciously because of something that they cannot change.  You call yourselves Christians. Though I myself am not one - Jewish here - I think that Jesus would be far from proud of your "agenda". An agenda that not only endangers the lives of countless of LGBT children and adults, but an agenda that is also based primarily on falsehoods masquerading as valid. That is why Mr. Colson Apple rejected your app, and I for one am glad that he did.

Rep. Giffords Shooting and the BOTW - Republican Gomorrah

      In a bizzare turn of events, one that I had not been planning - obviously - this weeks Book of the Week (BOTW) is quite pertinent to the situation that transpired in Arizona today. As many of you most likely know, Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords was allegedly shot by right-wing anarchist (or at least thats what it appears like from his Youtube Channel) Jared Loughner. Thankfully Representative Giffords is recovering in the hospital after being shot in the head, but this event underscores one of the major problems that exists within this country. Fear and the capitalization upon that Fear drive many within both the Tea Party as well as the social conservative crowd. This fear is accurately depicted in this weeks book: Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. Before I go any further, I would like to offer a disclaimer. Many people who read this might say that I am a left-wing blogger and that I am squarely in the hands of the Democrats. On the contrary, I style myself as a political moderate, who gladly will call individuals of either party to account. This week, it just happens to be the Republicans, which fall on my bad side alot in this blog because of its gay rights focus.

      Max Blumenthal makes the case that the Republican Party since the 1970's has been taken over by the fear-mongering social conservative movement. Though I would disagree with his approach to the issue, he does hit upon a key concept: Fear. Fear my friends, is what drives the social conservative movement, as well as politics in general. There must always be an enemy to battle against, and if there isn't one must be created. From Robertson to Fallwell to Dobson, Blumenthal makes the case that it is the attacking of groups that have led to the power of the Republican party. What else can explain the GOP's animosity towards gays and lesbians, immigrants, and Muslims?

      What is the consequence of this animosity and this control by the manipulating social conservatives? It is a party that is so repressed that it must act out. Hence why there were so many scandals involving Republican Senators and House members over sexual contact with other men etc. Blumenthal ends the book with a look at the rise of Sarah Palin and the influence that religion has had upon her. Scary stuff I must say. Though the book was written right after the 2008 elections, and before the influence of the Tea Party movement came on the national stage, I am sure that Blumenthal would agree that the Republicans traded one manipulative fear for another. They have "abandoned" the social conservatives - only for a bit though - and have instead embraced the "fear" of socialism and communism. A fear that has led to Republican candidates such as Sharron Angle to advocate for "Second Amendment Remedies"....or what we are seeing right now with the Giffords situation.

      Am I saying that Republicans are the cause of the shooting. Not at all, for individuals are responsible for their actions, yet was the mind of the shooter encouraged or discouraged by the rhetoric that he saw blasted day in and day out from cable news and politicians? This should be the lesson that we gain from both Blumenthal's book as well as the shooting....words DO have consequences. We cannot just say something and expect that everything will be ok, that others will not take literally what we say and what we advocate. This is why the Christian Right is so dangerous to the LGBT movement and why statements like Sharron Angles are dangerous to government as a whole. It is because of this danger that we must be very carefull of what we say, to ensure that we are not contributing to the harmful rhetoric that is spouted off around us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wyoming Gay Marriage Battle Looms

      The battle over gay marriage is one that just won't seem to die in states all across America. In some, Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island, this push for marriage equality is very much appreciated by LGBT activists. But, in the next legislative session of the Congress of Wyoming a battle over gay marriage is looming. According to the Casper Star Tribune, a bill will be introduced next week that will not allow the state to recognize out of state marriages unless they are between one man and one woman. 


Rep. Bob Brechtel, R-Casper, is a sponsor of a proposed bill that would prohibit Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Other sponsors include House Speaker Ed Buchanan, R-Torrington.
The bill would specify that no court in Wyoming would have jurisdiction over same-sex marriage, or marriage in which "there are more than two parties to the contract."
Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, campaigned on a platform that included favoring defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. While Mead has said he can't prejudge the particulars of any bill before it reaches his desk, he said he would consider signing such a bill into law.
Brechtel said Friday that he believes most Wyoming residents support the idea of defining marriage as existing only between a man and a woman.
"It is a value that people hold in this state...." Brechtel said. "Certainly the state has a vested interest in how families develop. We know that psychologically, families do best when there is a mom and a day in the home."
Last year, a Colorado Springs-based evangelical group, Focus on the Family Action, made calls to Wyoming voters encouraging them to contact lawmakers to vote for the legislation that would have allowed the constitutional change.
Asked whether there was a religious motive behind this year's bill, Brechtel said, "I think anybody would have to admit that most of us do not operate within a moral vacuum, either. While we want to do what we believe is best in terms of the state, there are arguments for what they consider the sanctity of marriage, as it was designed by a creator _ the design of family by a creator."
LGBT activists in the state are not going to let this just happen however. In the same article, openly lesbian Representative Cathy Connolly will be introducing two bills: one that would allow gay marriages to be performed in the State, the other allowing Civil Unions. Let us hope in the end that Connolly is correct when she states, "I think Wyomingites very much believe in our state motto that we're the `Equality State," Time will only tell. 


For any of my readers who reside in Wyoming, be sure to contact your local representative. The House of Representatives and Senates switchboard number is 307-777-7881 and their web address is...http://legisweb.state.wy.us/lsoweb/session/sessionhome.aspx



And the Family Research Council Thinks its Conservative?

     Today, the Family Research Council released a statement on why they are boycotting the Conservative Political Action Conference. According to them, it is because the Conference is allowing openly gay organizations, which have goals to legalize same-sex marriage as other pro-LGBT initiatives. This, according to the FRC, demeans Conservatism in general, for...

FRC has chosen not to partner with a "conservative" event that places the protection of marriage on the same plane as redefining it. Would CPAC team up with the Brady Campaign which fights to restrict--if not abolish--the Second Amendment? Would it collaborate with groups who promote doubling capital gains taxes? Regardless of what CPAC organizers may believe, conservatives and homosexual activists cannot coexist in a movement predicated on social values. This has nothing to do with whether individual homosexuals should be allowed to attend CPAC, or whether they are capable of holding conservative positions on some issues. We recognize that some organizations represented at CPAC are silent on the issue of homosexuality. But organizations whose whole reason for existence is to promote the forced public affirmation of homosexual conduct should not be welcomed at CPAC, because that is not-by any stretch of the imagination-a "conservative" agenda. By allying itself with liberal social organizations, ACU is abandoning at least a third of the conservative movement.
      The last sentence in that little diatribe is key.  The ACU - American Conservative Union, the organization that sponsors CPAC - is abandoning at least a "third" of the conservative movement. Todays Conservatism is made up of at least three branches, the libertarian/fiscal conservative wing, the neo-conservative/strong military wing, and the social conservative/anti-gay, abortion, euthanasia, etc. wing. Organizations such as GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans find themselves aligned with the first two but not the latter. In fact, the first two, back in the 1970's co-opted the third when they realized the power that could be gathered from the evangelical vote.

     Social Conservatism also goes against everything that the first two stand for. The libertarian minded organizations in CPAC do not want the government involved in ANYTHING, must less espousing a social agenda that seeks to "protect marriage" from the evil gays. Thus, if anything, the social conservatives are the true anti-conservatives, not GOProud or the LCR.

     As more and more social conservative organizations boycott CPAC - such as the Concerned Women for America, National Organization for Marriage, Heritage Foundation, etc. - we on the equality side should be rejoicing. The lack of bending to the social conservatives by the ACU and CPAC is encouraging, for it shows that these organizations are losing their clout in the overall conservative movement. Something any pro-equality person, conservative or liberal, should be rejoicing over.

The Manhattan Declaration - On Marriage Part 1

      There has been alot of controversy lately over Chuck Colsons Manhattan Declaration and its treatment by Apple Corporation. In early December of this past year, Apple received a petition through Change.org, notifying them of the declaration and its "questionnaire" - a questionnaire that stated that you had a wrong answer if you believed that gay people should be allowed to be married. Seeing this, Apple removed the Declarations App from its App store, citing that it was "objectionable and potentially harmful to others". The creators of the App then went back to the drawing board, removed the faulty questionnaire and resubmitted it, allowing you to only read and sign the Manhattan Declaration. Apple once again rejected the App, citing again that there was objectionable and potentially harmful content contained within the Declaration. If you can imagine, the Christian Right was not too pleased with this classification, and claim instead that Apple is suppressing their freedom of speech and that they have labeled Christians as bigots. Regardless of the fact that Apple is a private corporation and thus has no responsibility to protect freedom of speech, and that (as will soon show) the declaration itself is very "bigoted" in a sense, the Christian Right does not see this and instead is still crying foul. In an article that I was reading from the Everyday Christian, they stated...


This action by Apple is beyond political correctness. In effect, Apple has now taken a position against biblical Christianity, as well as against civil discourse and free speech. Rather than remaining true to the freedoms we enjoy in America, it has used its power to stifle the communication of biblically-based values, calling them “offensive.” This is not good PR for Apple. 
In a civil, reasoned, and respectful way, the Manhattan Declaration promotes the sanctity of every human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. Apple’s rejection of the Declaration’s application paves the way for increased restrictions on religious speech regarding moral issues.  The result of this decision will affect all faith groups if not overturned.
     But is this cry of Apple "taking a position against biblical Christianity" a true one, and does this "pave the way for increased restrictions on religious speech regarding moral issues?" I think not, for instead of the Manhattan Declaration being a benign statement of faith, it is instead a very vehement and condescending document, guised in the language of tolerance and acceptance. And this is only in its marriage section - not even the other two areas of the declaration. But, being that this blog is focused mainly on LGBT equality issues, I will focus strictly on the marriage passages. In this first installment of this two part series I will look into the main "reason" for marriage contained within the document.

     The Declaration starts with the generic concepts of, in a nutshell, God made marriage and it is a symbol of the relationship between Christ and his Church. Then starts a discussion on the importance of marriage in society and the ills that befall a culture when it does not value marriage. For both of these parts, no problem, for they are entitled to their beliefs religiously that marriage is ordained by God. I don't necessarily believe that, but hey who am I to say that they are wrong. Secondly, I would agree with the latter statement about the importance of marriage, it is a very socially important institution that should be respected. Hence why government regulates who can and who cannot be married, for it does have social consequences, both positive and negative, and thus needs to be encouraged.

     It is after this discussion of the importance of marriage that the writers of the Manhattan Declaration get into hot water, for it is here that their discussion goes into what Apple claims is objectionable content. It says,

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. In spousal communion and the rearing of children (who, as gifts of God, are the fruit of their parents' marital love), we discover the profound reasons for and benefits of the marriage covenant.
    In this section, not only does Colson and the other writers infer that civil and religious laws should be intertwined and equally valid, they at the same time relegate the institution of marriage to the concept of procreation - an argument that I have an unconventional argument again and will address in a bit. To Colson and all, the concept of procreation is essential to their doctrine, to it is the "profound reason for and benefits of the marriage covenant." The Declaration goes on to say,

We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God's intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God's patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to "a more excellent way." As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it.
In the first sentence, the writers start their decent into labeling an entire people group.  They claim, not surprisingly, that homosexual conduct is "immoral" and that we as LGBT people are somehow "disposed" to such conduct. For many LGBT people, its not that we are "disposed" to homosexual conduct, its just a part of who we are, something that we cannot help just like Colson and the other writers cannot help being "disposed" to heterosexual conduct. But for Colson, this "disposition" is sad, for by having it we have "fallen short of God's intention for our lives." To further complicate the matters, Colson then claims that instead of being angry at homosexuals, the Christian community must never "reject" these poor people who have fallen short of the Lords intention, but instead it must reject the sin that enslaves us poor LGBT people. This is the typical "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" argument that we in the LGBT community here time and time again, and an argument that I will address in a further blog post either today or tomorrow. The Declaration continues,

Some who enter into same-sex and polyamorous relationships no doubt regard their unions as truly marital. They fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit. This is because the body is no mere extrinsic instrument of the human person, but truly part of the personal reality of the human being. Human beings are not merely centers of consciousness or emotion, or minds, or spirits, inhabiting non-personal bodies. The human person is a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit. Marriage is what one man and one woman establish when, forsaking all others and pledging lifelong commitment, they found a sharing of life at every level of being—the biological, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritual— on a commitment that is sealed, completed and actualized by loving sexual intercourse in which the spouses become one flesh, not in some merely metaphorical sense, but by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation.
Here, Colson bases his opinion on marriage on the concept of procreation. Yet it does not necessarily have to be pure procreation, but instead it can be by "fulfilling the behavioral conditions of procreation."  It is here that Colson's argument is most vulnerable. For we can all disagree with the concept of whether gay and lesbian relationships are moral, and we can disagree over whether the state should put its approval on such unions, but when it comes to the foundational argument of Colson and all, that marriage is when a man and a woman in lifelong commitment to each other fulfill the behavioral conditions of procreation, the argument comes tumbling down through the inconsistencies of its proponents.

   For Colson, marriage now does not necessarily have to be legally or religiously sanctioned. For example, if a man and a woman - who lets say are atheists - decide that they are going to enter into a monogamous commitment to each other and hence have sex - in Colsons mind they are married. Do they have a piece of paper from the state? No, they are just living together. Did they have a commitment ceremony before their God? No, because they are not religious. But because they are committed, and they fulfill this behavioral condition of procreation, they are in fact "married".  Thus, is any government needed? No - for by very definition they are married, since they are fulfilling all of its criteria. Interesting thing to note though, is that many people DO have this arrangement, yet are Colson and writers ok with this? No! Remember when I stated that they said that marriage is important for society and has benefits, well one of the consequences of marriages decline, as stated by the Declaration is....

"Non-marital sexual cohabitation and a devastatingly high rate of divorce."
So Colson, which is it? Is marriage really about fulfilling the behavioral conditions of marriage? If so, then "non-marital sexual cohabitation" sure seems like a marriage to me. Get your logic straight.  Coming up, I will address the rest of the Declarations arguments in detail and show why it was because of these arguments that Apple removed the App from its store.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gay Marriage Poll out of Michigan

     From January 2-4, the Glengariff Group Inc. - commissioned by the Detroit News and WDIV Local 4 - surveyed Michigan voters on many issues facing the state, such as increases in tourism funding, how they believe President Obama is doing, and whether they favored construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. But the poll question most applicable to the LGBT community was the question on gay marriage and civil unions. 
According to the study,

By a margin of 38.5%-50.2%, Michigan voters oppose allowing gay men and lesbians to get married. 54.9% of Democratic voters support gay marriage, 42.3% of Independent voters support gay marriage, but only 19.6% of Republican voters support gay marriage.
But when asked if they support granting the alternative of civil unions to provide the legal benefits of marriage while still preserving the word marriage as something between a man and a woman, voters support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.5%.
63.7% of Democratic voters, 61.1% of Independent voters and even 44.3% of Republican voters said they could support civil unions for gay and lesbian Michiganders.
There is a strongly difference by gender specifically on the issue of marriage.
Men oppose marriage by a margin of 33.0%-56.7% But women SUPPORT same sex marriage by the narrow margin of 44.0%-42.6% Men support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.7%. Women support civil unions by a nearly identical margin of 55.7%-36.3%. Men appear to have a strong reaction to the word ‘marriage’ that women do not share.

     Though these numbers may seem to be disheartening, they are actually very positive. Remember that when Michigan passed its Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage in 2004, it passed with a vote of 59% of the population. Thus, the pro marriage equality side has reduced its opposition by about nine percent. Congrats to us.

       Though this is a good development, the problem exists with the civil union question. Though a majority of Michigan voters  approve of Civil Unions for gay and lesbian couples, the amendment to the Constitution that they approved in 2004 specifically bars the state from recognizing civil unions. Thus, if there is to be any way forward on this issue, a new amendment must be drafted that would allow civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. That being said, considering the understandable animosity that many within the LGBT community have to civil unions, I highly doubt that a civil unions amendment would be backed by Michigan gay rights groups, since they could instead just fight to repeal the marriage amendment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rhode Island and Gay Marriage

     The LGBT community in Rhode Island may be seeing marriage equality become a reality within the next few months in their state. Not only did the Governor Lincoln Chafee in his inaugural address specifically mention marriage equality, but this coming Thursday in the House of Representative of that state, a marriage equality bill will be introduced. With the current climate, activists in Rhode Island are holding their breath, for this may be the time that marriage equality is within grasp. According to the Providence Journal...


      In a brief interview on Wednesday, Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, said he had already lined up 27 co-sponsors and was hoping for more, but would introduce the bill no matter what the number of Thursday in hopes of spurring an early-session hearing and vote on the measure.
      Besides Handy, the other lead sponsors include the openly gay House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, who had said in the days leading up to the start of the 2011 General Assembly session that he hoped for a House vote on same-sex marriage early in the session, before the lawmakers get wrapped up in budget and other issues.
      As of right now the climate in Rhode Island is ripe for the legislation. With the inauguration of pro-equality governor Lincoln Chafee in the place of anti-equality Republican governor Donald Carcieri, the chance of a governor veto has been eliminated. That being said, there are two main obstacles. First, the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate - M. Teresa Pavia Weed - is staunchly opposed to any marriage equality legislation, and thus she may be able to influence the Senate. Second, if the motion passes, Democratic Representative Jon Brien has vowed to introduce legislation that would put the legislation up before a popular vote. Though the second option would in reality not change the situation - since a majority of Rhode Islanders favor marriage equality - it would give precedent to the idea that our rights are able to be voted on. 


With these two obstacles in mind, please take the time to contact both Senator Weeds office as well as Representative Brien's office encouraging them to not block in any way marriage equality from coming to the state.

State Senate Office of Constituent Services - jbaxter@rilin.state.ri.us  401-276-5588

Representative Brien - 401-766-9887
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