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Civil Rights

All marriages are equal, but some marriages are more equal than others…



From what I can tell, our Solemnization of Marriage Bill presented before the committee yesterday was no different from the other bills, except that we’re a same sex couple instead of a man and woman,” said Little Compton Town Councilmember Andrew Moore.

On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted three Solemnization of Marriage bills to the Senate floor. Instead of bundling the bills and voting on all three bills as once, as is the common practice, Judiciary Chair Erin Lynch Prata (Democrat, District 31, Warwick, Cranston) took each bill separately. The first bill passed unanimously. The second bill passed with one abstention, from Senator Frank Lombardi (Democrat, District 26, Cranston). The third bill passed unanimously.

What was different about the second bill? It was a same-sex marriage. Upon passage, Senate Bill 2330 would allow Daniel Hamlin to join Andrew Moore and Raúl Iriarte in marriage. Senator Lombardi routinely votes against same-sex marriage, because he opposes marriage equality.

Solemnization of Marriage bills are meant to be legislative favors that allow people to have friends and loved ones act as celebrants at their marriage. Since marriage equality passed in Rhode Island, same-sex marriages have routinely been treated differently by the General Assembly and frequently voted against. In no way are these marriages treated equally.

Normally, I try to respect the privacy of those whose marriages are being treated this way when I do these stories, but Andrew Moore, who is seeking to marry his partner, is an elected official and a Democrat currently serving on the Little Compton Town Council. I reached out to him for his comments on the abstention.

Moore started by thanking Senator Louis DiPalma (Democrat, District 12, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton) and the Senate Judiciary Committee “for taking the time to vote on this bill allowing our friend to perform our marriage ceremony later this year.”

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Moore then added:

“It’s disappointing that some members of the State Legislature vote based on their personal views, and not based on the laws of our State. From what I can tell, our Solemnization of Marriage Bill presented before the committee yesterday was no different from the other bills, except that we’re a same sex couple instead of a man and woman.

“All of our legislators should be making these sort of decisions based on the Marriage Equality Act signed in to law by Governor Chafee in 2013, and the Supreme Court decision in 2015. Same-Sex marriage is legal not just in Rhode Island but across our Nation – when our state Representatives and Senators take the oath of office they swear to faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties of your aforesaid office to the best of your abilities, according to law.

“In my opinion, those who only vote against or abstain from voting on same-sex solemnization of marriage bills are not being impartial nor holding up this oath.”

Here’s the video of the Senate vote:

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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