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In the eyes of certain State Senators, some marriages are less worthy

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“Senator Lombardi is not abstaining on a vote in his capacity as a private citizen. He is acting in his official capacity as a part of Rhode Island’s government.”


Since the passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, certain State Representatives and Senators in the General Assembly have continued to express their bigotry and homophobia through a policy of separating Solemnization of Marriage bills for same-sex couples from those of straight couples. Once separated, these state legislators either abstain from voting on the same-sex marriages or vote against them in defiant acts of institutionalized homophobia.

Nationally, Solemnization of Marriage bills are pretty unusual. In most states, if a couple wants a “nontraditional” marriage officiant to perform their marriage, there’s a simple online process to do so, or a mid-level public official who makes it happen for a standard fee. In Rhode Island, couples must reach out to a General Assembly member and ask for a Solemnization of Marriage bill to be passed.

On Thursday evening, three Senators who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee abstained from voting on S2078, a solemnization of marriage bill for a same-sex couple, but voted to approve S2133 for a heterosexual couple. The Senators who abstained were Harold Metts (Democrat, District 6, Providence), Frank Lombardi (Democrat, District 26, Cranston) and Jessica de la Cruz (Republican, District 23, Burrillville, Glocester).

This practice allows certain legislators to pass judgement on certain marriages, over and over again. The process of allowing the General Assembly to pass solemnization of marriage laws is broken, and needs to be remedied.

Len Katzman, in an oped in RI Future, wrote, “While I respect Mr Lombardi’s right to his religious faith, Senator Lombardi is not abstaining on a vote in his capacity as a private citizen. He is acting in his official capacity as a part of Rhode Island’s government.”


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Here’s the video:

I confirmed with Senate Spokesperson Greg Paré that three Senators abstained, not two, as mentioned

I have been writing about this issue for years – it goes back as far as the passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, in 2013.


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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com