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RI supporters of same-sex marriage remain opposed to putting the issue to a statewide vote

November 5, 2012

With Speaker Gordon Fox offering his most definitive plan over the weekend on plans for voting on same-sex marriage in the House, Election Day will offer clues about where the issue is headed in a few other states.

Most significantly, supporters are hopeful of winning a statewide vote to legalize gay marriage in Maine. A victory there would reverse an unrelenting series of defeats on the issue in other states and suggest better prospects at the ballot box.

Back in Rhode Island, Ray Sullivan, the campaign director for the advocacy effort Fight Back RI, remains opposed to putting same-sex marriage to a statewide vote:

“At the end of the day, we believe that the General Assembly is elected to be leaders. They’re elected to make decisions on behalf of their constituents. And faced with the alternative of putting a civil rights issue on the ballot — where tons of outside money and resources would be poured into it; real people would be affected and quite frankly, adversely impacted — we believe that it is the General Assembly’s prerogative to pursue this and to pursue it quickly.”

Prospects for same-sex marriage legislation in the state Senate remain unclear. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who celebrates her birthday today, has indicated she remains personally opposed to the concept.

Yet broader support for same-sex marriage among younger Americans may make more gains a matter of time, as the Wall Street Journal noted last week:

In the 2½ years since 1,500 canvassers in Maine began knocking on doors in support of Question 1, American support of gay marriage has, according to polls, grown sharply. Support in the U.S. reached 48% in July, up from 37% in 2009, while 44% opposed gay marriage, according to the nonpartisan Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News in March found 49% favored gay marriage, and 40% opposed it.

“Opinion on gay marriage, among social issues, has been shifting more dramatically than any other, and more consistently in one direction,” said Michael Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Center.

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