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RI pols slow out of the gate on President Obama’s blockbuster announcement

May 9, 2012

President Obama today became the first leader of the free world to rally behind the concept of same-sex marriage. You’d think that might elicit praise from Governor Lincoln Chafee — who singled out the issue for particular attention during his inaugural address in January 2011 — and other RI pols, particularly Democrats.

So far, though, the reaction has mostly been one of crickets.

At 4:12 this afternoon, CD1 Democrat Anthony Gemma sent the only unsolicited news release I’ve received from a RI candidate or elected official:

“It is time for America to guarantee civil rights including the right to marry freely and within the law, to all Americans regardless of race, creed, color, or sexual orientation.  “The democratic party, “ Mr. Gemma continued, “continues to stand for civil rights.  This is not a question of being a liberal, a progressive, or a conservative.  It is instead about the core American values – values that will always be championed by the democratic party.”  

I tweeted about the lack of response from Governor Chafee and openly gay Congressman David Cicilline. That sparked a call from Cicilline’s DC office, indicating that he did have a statement on the issue — available, apparently, on request:

“President Obama took the historically significant step today of recognizing that same-sex couples in committed relationships are entitled to the same rights as every American.  The President’s bold move represents true progress for our country, and I salute his leadership.”

RIPR made requests late this afternoon for comment from the governor’s office and the rest of the congressional delegation.

The office of Sheldon Whitehouse offered this:

“I’m proud to stand with President Obama as he takes this historic step in support of marriage equality.  Gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders have contributed a great deal to our Ocean State and deserve the same rights as everyone else.”

Jim Langevin:

“By announcing his support for marriage equality, President Obama has brought us closer to a time when I believe our nation will look back in disbelief that we once denied our fellow citizens basic civil rights based on their sexual orientation,” said Langevin. “I am pleased that the President recognizes that we cannot have separate categories of rights for certain groups of people and that establishing equal recognition for same-sex and heterosexual couples does not interfere with our fundamental belief in the separation of church and state, which ensures respect for the beliefs of religious institutions. Full marriage equality is simply the only way to ensure everyone is treated fairly under the law.”

The lack of unsolicited statements from RI officials, including openly gay Speaker Gordon Fox, stands in contrast to how Massachusetts Democrats, as Cynthia Needham tweets, lined up behind the president’s position.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mister Guy permalink
    May 9, 2012 11:46 pm

    “President Obama today became the first leader of the free world to rally behind the concept of same-sex marriage.”

    Ummmm, the leaders of Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Luxembourg & the UK have all been in favor of same-sex marriage for a while now. The Prime Minister of Iceland & her partner were actually among the first married same-sex couples in that country. Since 2001, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, & Sweden have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide. Obama’s change back to his former position (favoring same-sex marriage) is a big deal in the USA but not so much elsewhere in “the free world”.

    I personally don’t have a problem with the idea of same-sex marriage, but politically-speaking, civil unions seem like a good compromise on the issue. Unfortunately, too many people freak out when they hear the term “marriage” applied to same-sex couples, as if their own religious institutions will need to recognize those kind of unions (Hint: They don’t).

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