The issue of same-sex marriage is an argument that all of us have heard, and most of us have strong opinions on. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.” While he said this in reference to marriage between races, the same can be said about homosexuals.
Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them. According to the Washington Post, national support for marriage equality is trending upwards with 58% of Americans being in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage as of March 2013.
CFO Consulting Group is proud to be the public affairs team fighting for marriage equality within Rhode Island. There are currently nine states, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal. In addition to this, 3 states are considering bills to legalize same-sex marriage; Delaware, Illinois, & Rhode Island. In January, the Rhode Island House of Representatives & House Speaker Gordon Fox overwhelmingly passed legislation to allow gays and lesbians to marry in the only New England state where they can’t.
The Rhode Island Senate will be next to address the issue of gay marriage when they return from their recess this week for the final work of their annual session. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider legislation allowing gay couples to wed. The session is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23rd. Also up for consideration is a bill that would place the question of allowing gay marriage on next year’s ballot.
The two bills before the Senate Judiciary Committee take different paths. One would reaffirm Rhode Island’s constitutional protection of religious liberty. The other has a long lists of special exemptions and carve-outs,
The major issue keeping Rhode Island from becoming the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and why there are two bills being considered, is the question of how will those that oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, including religious institutions, businesses, and hospitals, be affected if same-sex marriage is approved? More specifically, questions regarding the legality of a business or religious institution denying service to same-sex couples because of religious beliefs will be up for debate this Tuesday.
CFO is looking forward to seeing the Rhode Island Senate vote in favor of the bill and allow all people in Rhode Island, regardless of their sexual orientation, to possess equal rights.
By Brett Smiley, founding partner of CFO Consulting Group