A Rhode Island House panel considering
a bill seeking to legalize gay marriage in the state heard testimony
from hundreds of people on Tuesday.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee
said in written testimony that the supports marriage equality because
it would “extend important social recognition and legal protections
to all Rhode Island families and children” while preserving “the
right of religious institutions to determine who they may marry
within their faiths.”
“At its core, the Marriage Equality
Act is a matter of fairness,” he said.
Other prominent state politicians who
spoke in favor of the bill included state General Treasurer Gina
Raimondo, Rep. Arthur Handy – the bill's Democratic sponsor – and
openly gay Rep. Frank Ferri.
An estimated 300 people signed up, but
many did not speak.
According to the Providence
Journal, Dorris Adiyi said calling such unions a civil right
was a “huge disgrace” to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and
persons of color.
Other opponents described sexuality as
a “learned behavior,” suggesting that gay and lesbian people have
the power to change their sexual orientation.
Also testifying was Matthew Lannon, a
sixth grader who told lawmakers that he has two dads and two moms.
“Let me tell you about my parents,”
he said. “I have two moms and two dads, and an older sister. If
you came to our house, you would feel the love that we all have for
one another. … Having gay marriage won't change our family, it will
change the way that the state, and other people see our family; as
normal just like everyone else.”
A large crowd of roughly 200 opponents
chanted “Let the people vote” and prayed under the State House
dome. (Video is embedded on this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
House Speaker Gordon Fox has said he
would like to call a vote on the bill before the end of the month.