Rhode Island Hearing to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Left Inconclusive

( [email protected] ) Mar 24, 2004 01:34 PM EST

The four-hour hearing Tuesday on the issue of same-sex marriage for Rhode Island lawmakers was left inconclusive with no votes for either of the two bills proposed—one defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman and one allowing same-sex marriage.

About 100 people attended the first hearing Rhode Island has held on the issue of same-sex marriage. Any bills in favor of giving rights to same-sex marriages have failed to make the table in the past since Rhode Island is known as one of the most Catholic states in the country.

Sen. Leo Blais (R-Coventry) presented the bill that would ban gay marriage in the state. The bill also includes a ban to recognize acceptance of gay marriages from other states.

Dwight Duncan, a professor at Southern New England School of Law, forecasted the dangers Rhode Island would face if it did not include the ban on recognizing out-of-state gay marriages in the bill.

“Same-sex couples will get married in Massachusetts and return home and press lawsuits to seek recognition here in Rhode Island," he said.

Openly gay Providence Mayor David Cicilline was the first to speak in support of the bill allowing same-sex marriage, proposed by Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence

"The reason you should pass this legislation is very simple, marriage is good, both for the individual and society," said Cicilline.

However, Stephen Cote, a deacon representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence who is backing up the Blais’bill, said at the hearing that not any kind of marriage is tolerable, only the one supported by the church.

"The institution of marriage is being slowly, systematically decimated," said Cote. "Our church teaches that marriage is a faithful lifelong union between one man and one woman ... that must be preserved."