PROVIDENCE, RI, April 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rhode Island is poised to become the 10th state to approve same-sex “marriage.” The Rhode Island State Senate Wednesday voted 26-12 in favor of a bill redefining marriage to include homosexual couples.
The vote came after the House overwhelmingly approved the measure in January, and after Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, a Democrat who opposes same-sex “marriage,” nonetheless allowed the bill to come to the floor for a vote.
The bill will now go back to the House for a perfunctory vote before being forwarded to Gov. Lincoln Chafee for his signature. The governor has previously expressed his support for the bill.
Once signed, the bill will take effect August 1.
After that date, civil unions will no longer be available to same-sex couples in Rhode Island, only marriage. However, the state will continue to recognize existing civil partnerships that have been formed since the state approved civil unions two years ago.
Additionally, the bill contains a provision allowing those who entered civil unions to convert those legal partnerships to “marriages.”
Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence urged legislators Monday “to stand strong” and “to defend marriage and family as traditionally defined.”
“We should be very clear about this,” Tobin added. “It is only with grave risk to our spiritual well-being and the common good of our society that we dare to redefine what God himself has created.”
“It was horrific to see many Rhode Island senators who call themselves Catholics publicly betray their Catholic faith by voting for this same-sex ‘marriage’ bill,” said Kara Young, a Catholic pro-family activist who spoke against the bill during the Senate hearings.
Young, a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor, told LifeSiteNews.com, “Some of them even gave televised speeches on the Senate floor before the vote occurred, during which they proudly proclaimed themselves as Catholics and promoted their reasons for why they were voting for the bill.”
But on Tuesday, after weeks of pressure, two key “pro-family” Rhode Island State Senators caved in to the homosexual lobby and switched their votes, causing the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the gay “marriage” bill by a 7-4 vote, and send it to the full Senate.
Sens. William Conley and Leonidas Reptakis are both religious Democrats who until this week had maintained strong opposition to same-sex “marriage.” Conley is Catholic.
Reptakis is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. The priests at both men’s churches have spoken out against gay “marriage” throughout the debate.
As recently as January, Reptakis told a local newspaper, “I believe in a traditional marriage between a man and a woman.” But over the last several weeks, homosexual activists turned up the heat on both men. Last month, Reptakis told the press that he'd been getting 30 to 40 phone calls every day on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”
In the end, both men voted for the bill. So did Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, another Catholic Democrat who told the Associated Press that after many personal pleas from homosexual constituents and several sleepless nights, she decided to turn her back on the teaching of her Church and vote “on the side of love.”
“I’m a practicing Catholic. I’m proud to be a Catholic,” she told the AP. “I struggled with this for days, for weeks. It's certainly not an easy vote.”
“These Catholic senators are causing grave scandal to the faithful,” Young told LifeSiteNews. “Unless they repent beforehand, [they] should be denied Communion.”
Young said she is concerned that the vote will lead to persecution of those whose faiths teach against homosexuality.
“For the ‘crime’ of not toeing the line of the radical same sex agenda…citizens, parents, business owners, and organizations can expect to be fined, fired, or even arrested for their non-compliance,” Young wrote. “Rhode Island public schools will be breeding grounds for indoctrination into the same sex agenda.”
Young said that has already happened in Massachussetts, where same-sex ‘marriage’ has been legal since 2004.
“In 2005 in Massachusetts, a mother and father named David and Tonia Parker were horrified after their five-year-old kindergartner son was given a book by his school promoting same sex partnerships,” Young wrote in an e-mail to LifeSiteNews. “David Parker went to the school, asking them to notify him whenever the school would be discussing homosexuality or transgenderism with his son, so that he could opt his son out of this indoctrination. The school not only refused this concerned father's request, but ended up having him arrested and jailed overnight.”
Rhode Island’s bill redefines marriage by removing all gender-specific language from the state’s marriage laws. It also adds new language that permits a person to marry any other eligible person, regardless of sex.
While the bill contains a clause allowing churches to refuse to conduct same-sex “marriages” on religious grounds, that protection does not extend to businesses owned by people of faith. Photographers, bakeries, inns, and other for-profit ventures that cater to the wedding industry may not refuse their services to gay “wedding” ceremonies, regardless of religious objection to homosexuality.
The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Donna Nesselbush, hailed the “historic vote” in a statement, saying legislators wisely chose to “join the force for marriage equality that is sweeping our nation.”
Marc Solomon, spokesmen for “Freedom to Marry,” a pro-gay-‘marriage’ group, also celebrated the vote. “This finishes off New England—we now have a region of the country that is 100 percent for the freedom to marry,” Solomon told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont all allow same-sex “marriage” now, along with Iowa, New York, Maryland, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Of those, only Maine, Maryland and Washington voted in favor of gay nuptials. The others were the result of court orders.