Thursday, May 28, 2009

Majority of Rhode Island Voters Support Marriage Equality

Good news! A new Brown University poll released Wednesday shows 60% of voters support a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. We gain more support of 75% for civil unions. Only 31% flatly stated they would oppose a marriage equality law.

The irony here is that Rhode Island is one of the most conservative New England states with the demographic showing over half of the residents Roman Catholic, more than any other state, and on top of that, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri is a member of the National Organization for Marriage.

Our advocates in the state are pointing out this poll to state leadership, showing them that this is what their constituents want.

"Even if they're not hearing constantly from constituents or people they work with about what they feel about marriage equality, it clearly gives the decision-makers something to look at when supporting marriage equality," said Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

While 77% of Democrats polled said they would support gay marriage, only 28% of Republicans shared that view. Results also showed younger voters more heavily favored marriage equality. 87% of voters ages 18-29 supported it, as opposed to 32% of voters 70 and older. This reflects the national Gallup poll released yesterday.

Christopher Plante, executive director for the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, pointed out that polls showed California voters supported same-sex marriage, which they banned in the November election.

"The same-sex marriage movement is about a small minority of people trying to radically alter the historic definition of marriage to suit their lifestyle," Plante said in a statement.

Funny how Plante ignores the fact that New Englanders are adamant about other states staying out of their business, but since what happened in California suits his argument, it's now somehow appropriate to mention it.

Every year since 1997, bills legalizing marriage equality have been introduced and killed in legislative committees. House Speaker William Murphy and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, both Democrats and Catholics, oppose same-sex marriage, and of course, Gov. Carcieri — another Catholic — would likely veto such a measure.

This year is no different with bills in both House and Senate committees. The House Judiciary Committee recommending the measure be held for further study, effectively killing the bill.

Still, Rep. Frank Ferri, a Warwick Democrat and former chair of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, said the poll shows officials the growing support for gay marriage in Rhode Island.

"Gay marriage is just like any other marriage and the more we talk about it and the more we read about it just reinforces that," Ferri said.

ACTION: Marriage Equality Rhode Island is urging state residents to take advantage of the support by getting more involved by doing five simple actions. Check it out!

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