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Same-Sex Marriage Hearing Lasts Into Early Morning

NK's Sen. Hodgson speaks out in favor of same-sex marriage.


By midnight Thursday, people were still testifying for and against the same-sex marriage legislation (S-38) before the state Senate Judiciary Committee. More than 600 people signed up to testify and in groups of four they were called up. 

North Kingstown State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R - North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown and Narragansett) sits on the Judiciary Committee.

Hodgson early on spoke out in favor of the legislation: "If Rhode Islanders truly believe in family values, we need to value all families."

To the comments from some that the legislation harms marriage, Hodgson said, "No matter what this committee does, it won't touch your marriage. That's one of the nice things about the separation of church and state."

Sen. Lou Raptakis (D - Coventry, E.G., W.W.), who also sits on the committee, made no statements for or against during the hearing.

One of those who spoke for the "sanctity of marriage" and against same-sex marriage was Fr. Bernard Healey, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church in East Greenwich. Healey also serves at lobbyist for the Diocese of Providence. He said religious protections would be imperiled by passage of the bill. 

Many who testified against the legislation echoed what Sen. Harold Metts (D - Prov.) referred to as the “cosmic battle between God and Satan.”

Pastor Jay Stirnemann of Tiverton said, "I speak for God. I am oppose to marriage between people of the same sex.... God established marriage, not you or me. The state has no right to define marriage."

Directing his conclusion to Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D - Pawt.), the main sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, Stirnemann said, "There will be serious consequences Sen. Nesselbush, if this passes. God watches."

Those voices were strongly supported by Sen. Harold Metts (D - Prov.), who spoke several times over the course of the evening against the bill, invoking God and the bible frequently.

Sen. Steve Archambault (D - Smithfield, Johnston, N. Prov.) also spoke frequently to those testifying, but in support of the bill.

"I don’t know how any man can stand before another man and say they know what the word of God is," Archambault said, refering to what he said was the condemning language of some of those who testified against the legislation.

Tony and Sylvia DeLuca of Saunderstown, married 53 years, testified in favor of the same-sex marriage bill, Tony noting telling about their daughter, Louisa, who is gay.

“Like any father, I just want to walk my little girl down the aisle,” he said.

Lise Iwon of South Kingstown spoke about her partner of 32 years, Peg Laurence, who died a year ago. 

"Peg and I adored each other. Friends would say they envied us," she said. "Peg was and I am a passionate advocate for fairness."

Caroline Stouffer of East Greenwich got her chance to testify at 11:30 p.m., where she voiced her support of same-sex marriage. "Gay folks look just like us ... I don't think we should be writing discrimination into any of our laws."

By 12:15 a.m. Friday, seven of the ten senators on the judiciary committee were still listening to testimony, with dozens of names still on the list to testify. 

dphs18 March 22, 2013 at 07:04 PM
I think we all have gay marriage fatigue. I'm not in favor of it passing, but please just vote on it, so we can focus on important issues like keeping the state from going bankrupt.
magician March 23, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Undoubtedly this issue is of great importance to our state. An issue of such great importance should be decided by the majority of the people. The legislature should not be in the business of crafting societal mores regardless of whether or not they agree or disagree with the societal opinions. Our country was founded upon the principle of majority rule. No where in our founding documents have I been able to find anything that states that any legislative body has the right to dictate to the majority. Although they have on many occasions done so. If in fact this is a "right" then the majority will so rule in a statewide referendum. The question then becomes what is to fear from a vote based upon the "rightness or wrongness" of the issue? Every other year we cast ballots to determine the rightness or wrongness of elected officials, countless bond issues and referendums. Why is this issue any different? It seems to me that the push to legislate the issue rather than allowing the people to vote is an attempt to dictate to the people. It is the legislature telling us that they know better than us. Are they afraid that the outcome may not be what they want? This is not just about the issue at hand, it is about whether or not, we the voting public, will continue to stand for being dictated to and shunted aside by our elected officials. Isn't it time for all of us to stand up and really be counted!!
Alicarn March 23, 2013 at 02:32 PM
To those who oppose gay marriage (ugh, I hate that term - it's just marriage) I always like to ask a question. When did they decide that they were straight? Usually they can't answer and that's when I remind them that there really is no choice, that you are born straight or you are born gay, period. I don't think anyone would chose to be gay; to choose to be harassed, preyed upon and discriminated against. Why would you choose to go through life knowing that you would find discrimination EVERYWHERE you go? Family, school, church, jobs, etc.. Our own government has told people it's okay to hate those who are gay. We are ALL EQUAL and the closed minded legislators across our country will be waking up and doing what is right. EVERY little girl or boy needs to know that when they grow up and fall in love and choose to marry - that they can, regardless of their sexual preference. The majority should never be allowed to vote on the rights of the minority. Equality for all.
dphs18 March 23, 2013 at 02:49 PM
There is no evidence that people are born gay. If that was the case then there would be examples of gay behavior in the animal kingdom and there is no evidence of such behavior. We are born with certain equipment and it has a purpose which is to procreate the species.
Politics Sheriff of NK March 23, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I'm also not born with a ballot in my hand but my right to vote is the same as anyone who happens to be gay, or any other minority. We in the majority (straight, white, etc) should be cautious when rationalizing away the rights of other smaller groups to do the things we ourselves expect to be able to do.
Rev. Patrick Greene March 23, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Actually, it seems like there has been plenty of evidence of such behavior: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals, or if wikipedia is too suspect for you, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090616122106.htm
Politics Sheriff of NK March 23, 2013 at 09:19 PM
I'll add that even if there were no evidence of same sex behavior in animals, what does that matter? They also dont write patch comments, does that mean we also shouldnt?

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