RI might be next!

by Karen Topakian

Watch out big news could be on its way from my home state. Little Rhody. On Wednesday, February 9, RI will hold its first State House hearing on same sex marriage.

A newly released study by the Williams Institute indicates that the cash strapped state could benefit financially from legalizing gay marriage. To the tune of $1.2 million over three years. And that only refers to state tax revenues.

Governor Chafee who promised to sign gay rights marriage legislation chose to include his support in his January 2011 inaugural speech.

“I would hope that Rhode Island will catch up to her New England neighbors and pass a bill to establish marriage equality,’’ said Chafee. “I urge our General Assembly to quickly consider and adopt this legislation. When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honor our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in pursuit of human equality.’’

If RI does catch up to her Rhode Island neighbors, I will be deeply proud of my home state.  And once again wonder if California will ever catch up.

Rhode Island, You Should Have Been First

 

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by Karen Topakian

My home state of Rhode Island is once again in the news. It’s the last holdout of the six New England states to legalize same sex marriage. Rhode Island proudly stands first in many historical events that formed this country and its bedrock philosophies of freedom and liberty, why couldn’t it have done so now? For example,

Roger Williams, the founder of the first colony in Rhode Island in 1636, based his Providence settlement on his strong beliefs in religious liberty, specifically in the separation of Church and State. A unique model for government in the 17th century. And an unwelcome concept in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which exiled him. Rhode Island became a haven and refuge for people seeking religious freedom. He adhered to his beliefs in religious freedom along with other revolutionary ideas that influenced Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. 

On May 18, 1652, Rhode Island took first place in North American history by making slavery illegal.

On June 9, 1772, two Rhode Islanders, Abraham Whipple and John Brown committed the first act of bloodshed against the British government’s onerous taxation and trade policies when it attacked, boarded, looted and burned down the British revenue schooner, the Gaspee. A year and a half before the more widely known and celebrated Boston Tea Party. 

On May 4, 1776, the Rhode Island legislature became the first colony to declare its independence from Great Britain.

For a state founded on the basis of religious freedom and independence, why are we now in last place amongst our New England neighbors?