Sunday, May 10, 2009

Whither Rhode Island?

Let's re-examine the "6 by 12" strategy shall we? 

The hope is to have full marriage equality in all 6 New England states by 2012. Maine -- done (provisionally). Vermont -- done (with seemingly no challenges coming). New Hampshire -- sitting on the governor's desk. Massachusetts -- done (long time). Connecticut -- done (the legislature just followed up the ruling with a law). Rhode Island...


Rhode Island is the final hold out. Sure, New Hampshire is not guaranteed, and we might see a vote come up in Maine, but why Rhode Island? I have this image in my head of a semi-large liberal city, much like Portland, snuggled up against a placcid bay where people care more about lobsters than who is porking whom. But a recent AP story indicates that the heavy Roman Catholic influence in the state may leave the Ocean State as the last hold out for marriage inequality in that section of the world for years to come. Even were the legislature to pass a bill, Republican and Catholic Governor Dan Carcieri will not sign it. That takes us all the way to January 2011, when he is term-limited out. The Democratic primary field is pro-marriage, but no word yet on the Republican nominees (don't hold your breath). 

Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) is trying, though. The marriage equality bill is going to be heard in the House this Wednesday the 13th (for the text of H5744, click here).

It's not enough, though, for Cassandra Ormiston, who was one of the two women would tried to get their Massachusetts marriage ended in Rhode Island. For years, she has been working to get a divorce, but the Supreme Court of the state said no. She's starting her own one woman movement -- Equality Rising (no website yet) -- to push faster, harder, stronger. Ormiston is disappointed with the glacial pace of the movement and tired of the "patience" line she's being fed. I can't say I blame her. 

But I don't see how this can happen yet, though we were sure NH was dead in the water. 

So, perhaps, there is still a chance.

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