Hundreds of people on Thursday attended
a Senate hearing on a proposed gay marriage bill in Rhode Island, the
Providence Journal reported.
About 100 or so opponents of the
legislation held a rally in the Statehouse rotunda before the Senate
Judiciary Committee's hearing got underway.
The boisterous rally was led by members
of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hispanic Pastors Association.
Wearing signs that read “1 Man + 1 Woman = Marriage,” the crowd
chanted, “A family is a father and a mother and the children.”
“It's immoral, it's blasphemy,”
Suzanne Baptista told Providence-based NBC affiliate WJAR. “Up
until eleven years ago, it was illegal and a punishable offense.”
At the hearing, 54-year-old Patricia
Baker, who legally married Deborah in Massachusetts five years ago
and has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, told lawmakers that
she worried about her wife's future.
“When I inquired about survivor
benefits for my wife, I was told she would not be eligible because
the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage,” she
told lawmakers holding back tears.
“I worked all my life for those
benefits. 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?”
Senator Harold Metts, a Democrat from
Providence, also spoke out against the bill: “We cannot marginalize
sin. That's the danger … I don't hate anyone, but I do believe
that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
House panel heard 8 hours' worth of testimony on its version of the
bill last month.