The next big test of the Rhode Island marriage equality bill is the Senate Judiciary Committee. Equality on Trial reports:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is seen as a significant obstacle to the marriage equality bill on its way to becoming law. Sen. Michael McCaffrey, the chair of the committee, opposes marriage equality. Of the ten senators on the committee, four are likely ‘yes’ votes and four are likely ‘no’ votes. The other two, Sens. Paul Jabour and William Conley, have made conflicting statements on the issue in the past. In an interview with EqualityOnTrial in early February, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, the only Republican in the chamber to vote for the bill-said that he believes the bill will pass if brought up on the Senate floor.
There will be a hearing in the committee Thursday, but no vote is expected. Both the full marriage equality bill and one that would include strong religious protections and a public vote will be considered.
In other Rhode Island news, a new local Catholic group is pushing for passage of the bill, The Providence Journal reports:
A new group named Rhode Island Catholics for Marriage Equality urged the state Senate Wednesday to pass a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The group, claiming more than 100 members, is made up of “Catholics from parishes and communities across the state,” according to Rhode Islanders United for Marriage. Members are invited to sign a pledge that reads in part: “I am a Catholic, and I support marriage for same-sex couples. As a Catholic, I am called to actively love and support my neighbors, including … gay and lesbian families.”
And Pam’s House Blend reports that NOM is worried:
National Organization for Marriage in Rhode Island, the group opposing marriage equality for same-sex couples in Rhode Island, desperately hopes that if the Senate Committee on Judiciary passes either bill out of committee, it will be S708, the constitutional amendment. The committee is scheduled to consider both bills on Thursday, March 21. There can be only one reason why NOM-RI would favor this outcome: they don’t think they can stop passage of the marriage equality bill (S38).
Let’s hope they are right.