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R.I. Marriage Equality Battle Heats Up

R.I. Marriage Equality Battle Heats Up

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Hundreds of people on both sides of the marriage debate rallied Thursday at the Rhode Island state capitol as lawmakers held hearings late into the evening on a marriage equality bill.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding a marriage equality bill introduced by Democratic senator Rhoda E. Perry of Providence that would provide religious exemptions.

The Providence Journalreports that the committee also considered on its agenda "marriage-lite" bill options, including domestic partnership legislation and "reciprocal beneficiary agreements."

But testimony in favor of full marriage equality included stories from a woman who recently lost her spouse and business interests who seek to attract the "best and brightest" workforce to the state.

"If you think that the entire future work force is heterosexual, you are wrong," said Ian Barnacle of the real estate company Residential Properties. "This can be the least-expensive economic development decision this state can make."

Opponents of the marriage equality bill included the Catholic church, whose arguments during senate testimony hit common themes of "redefining" a sacred institution and damaging the welfare of children. "The push to redefine marriage would have us believe that marriage is about love and love alone. This is counterintuitive, and it denies the fundamental reason society takes such a vested interest in the institution of marriage," said Paul Gondreau, a professor of theology at Providence College. "It's the children that society is especially concerned with, since without the children, society has no future."

According to the Journal, no committee vote had been expected on the bills Thursday. Read more here.

For information on pro-marriage equality efforts, visit Marriage Equality Rhode Island's website.

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