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RI fallout uncertain from Obama + Reed’s switch on same-sex marriage

May 10, 2012

The move yesterday by President Obama and Senator Jack Reed to support same-sex marriage lends “a significant boost of momentum” to local advocates, says Ray Sullivan, campaign coordinator for Marriage Equality Rhode Island. Be that as it may, Sullivan is unwilling to specify a year when he thinks the General Assembly will pass same-sex marriage legislation.

“I believe that the support is there to move forward with this important civil rights legislation,” Sullivan says, “and I would tell you it’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Fair en0ugh. People on both sides of the issue acknowledge how younger Americans are more supportive of same-sex rights than their elders — a factor, no doubt, in Obama’s change of heart. So when does Sullivan expect the General Assembly to pass same-sex marriage legislation?

You know, that’s not for me to say. We come to work every day expecting anything can happen. Yesterday when the day started, we didn’t know the president was going to say what he said. We certainly didn’t know that Senator Reed was ready to do what he did, either.

Related shorttakes:

— Sullivan says MERI, like most supporters, remains opposed on principle to trying to pass same-sex marriage through a statewide vote.

— He nonetheless considers accurate a 2009 Brown poll, which found that 60 percent of Rhode Islanders back same-sex marriage. A 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling put the support at 50 percent.

— MERI “spoke at length” with Gene Dyszlewski, who announced today for state Senate in Cranston, about what a campaign would entail, Sullivan says.

— Sullivan softened his rhetoric from when he vowed to challenge “anti-equality lawmakers” later this year, perhaps because of more communication with the state Senate. He nonetheless says MERI expects to field an as-yet unknown number of legislative candidates.

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