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Senate Judiciary appointments could offer clues on same-sex marriage outlook

November 29, 2012

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed’s selections to fill two vacant slots on the Senate Judiciary Committee may offer some tea leaves on the outlook for same-sex marriage in that chamber.

Senator-elect Steve Archambault, a lawyer and former police officer who supports same-sex marriage, is considered a prospect to replace Glenford Shibley, an opponent, (R-Coventry) on Judiciary. Archambault declined to comment in detail, but asked about his interest in winding up on Judiciary, he said, “I’m hopeful.” 

Shibley (R-Coventry) was defeated earlier this month by former Senator Leonidas “Lou” Raptakis, a Democrat.

Also in flux is the Judiciary seat held by Senator Rhoda Perry of Providence, who decided not to seek re-election this year. Perry’s choice to succeed her, Senator-elect Gayle Goldin, like Perry, is a same-sex marriage supporter.

Goldin offered this comment when asked whether she’s expressed interest to Paiva Weed about serving on Judiciary:

“I haven’t spoken with the Senate president about specific committee assignments yet.  It’s my understanding that the new senators will be meeting with the Senate leadership some time in the next couple of weeks so that we can learn more about the various committees, after which we’ll have an opportunity to rank our preferences.”

Senate spokesman Greg Pare says new committee assignments will be unveiled in January.

Among the other eight returning members of the Judiciary Committee, the following senators are considered “no” votes on same-sex marriage: Maryellen Goodwin; Chairman Michael McCaffrey; Harold Metts; and William Walaska.

These senators are considered “yes” votes: Dawson Hodgson; Erin Lynch; and Donna Nesselbush. Paul Jabour said during the recent campaign season that he’d vote to reflect the wishes of his constituents on Federal Hill in Providence, where a majority could be considered to support same-sex marriage.

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