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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: gay marriage smackdown

January 6, 2011

STATE OF THE STATE: Is 2011 the year when Rhode Island legalizes same-sex marriage? The battle kicks off this afternoon when state Representative Art Handy introduces his bill . . . .  Key changes from the past : 1) Lincoln Chafee is governor; and 2) Speaker Gordon Fox is ready to permit a floor vote in the House . . . . Key question:  How does Senate president Teresa Paiva Weed negotiate the issue? . . . . National groups: the National Organization for Marriage RI has been active on the issue. Newer to RI is New York-based Freedom to Marry, which announced last November that it was working with local groups. Executive director Evan Wolfson says the group’s point person in RI is Marc Solomon, the former director of MassEquality. Asked whether same-sex marriage will become legal this year in RI, Wolfson says, “We are certainly very hopeful.”

WILL SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PASS IN THE HOUSE? The view from state Representative Jon Brien, an opponent, who plans to introduce legislation calling for a statewide vote on the issue: “If it passes or it fails, it will be by a razor-thin margin. I really believe that, because I believe this is one of those votes in the chamber where the leadership and the whips will not be asking anyone to vote a certain way. This is a highly personal vote, and if in fact it comes out, it will be put out there for the reps to decide for themselves how they want it.”

GAY IN CONGRESS: David Cicilline is said to be the fourth openly gay member in the House.

GAY IN THE MEDIA: Dan Kennedy notes that it still makes news when a sportswriter, like the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley, comes out.

RI IN DC: Bill Daley, President Obama’s new chief of staff, attended Providence College.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Senator Maryellen Goodwin gets the nod as majority whip . . . . Anchor Rising’s Andrew Morse test-drives the legislature’s new online voting system.

SMACKDOWN: Kate Coyne-McCoy of EMILY’s List and Justin Katz of Anchor Rising join Scott MacKay and yours truly for this week’s WRNI Political Roundtable. It airs tomorrow at 5:40/7:40 am, and can also be found online.

STRANGE WEBFELLOWS: Betsy Morgan goes from CEO of Huffington Post to Glenn Beck’s new site, the Blaze.

DC INFLUENCE: Any surprise that corporations, unions, and other special interest groups filled the advertising pages of DC media during the start of the congressional session?

CHAFEE: In a story broken yesterday by Ted Nesi, the governor will skip the annual State of the State address. Instead, there will be a combined budget address-State of the State. Spokesman Mike Trainor says it will likely be held the last week of this month.

BIRTHDAY: Erik Carlson.

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