VIDEO: Hundreds Turn Out to Support the Freedom to Marry at Rhode Island Senate Hearings
March 11, 2011
Marriage supporters were out in force at Rhode Island's statehouse Thursday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on several bills relating to marriage for same-sex couples.
Some of the most moving testimony came from Patricia Baker. The 54-year-old corrections officer was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and needs an oxygen tank to breath. She appeared with her wife, Deborah Tevyaw, who she marriage in Massachusetts five years ago.
"We own a house. We pay taxes. But they told me my Social Security benefits would go back into the system when I die. How is she going to keep the house?" Patricia asked as Deborah wiped away tears. "I hope I live to see this dream come true."
Sylvia DeLuca, a Rhode Islander whose daughter is married to a woman, said "Love is the reason for marriage, not sexual orientation."
Some added an economic argument. Ian Barnacle, who works in real estate, said that Rhode Island risks losing talent to Massachusetts, which has ended marriage discrimination "If you think that the entire future work force is heterosexual, you are wrong," he said. "This can be the least-expensive economic development decision this state can make."
The Rhode Island House could vote on its own version of the legislation within a few weeks, and Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) has said he supports it. There's no word yet on when a vote might come in the Senate, where the bill faces more challenges because Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D) opposes the bill.
Here's a news report on the hearings:
If you're a Rhode Islander, you can use this link to ask your elected representatives to support the freedom to marry: