Rhode Islanders Rally for Marriage Equality

“Don’t just get pissed off. Take some

—Ken Fish, retired state education official

Below is an article posted by The Brown Daily Herald with regards
to the same-sex marriage equality rally sponsored by Marriage
Equality Rhode Island. This past weekend 150 same-sex marriage
supporters gathered on the south steps of the State House demanding
legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Rhode Island’s five
other sister New England states have mandated that civil marriage
extend to all of their citizens.

Below are three easy ways you can join the fight for equal
rights for all LGBT families:

1) Support marriage equality in your state.
If your state does not currently recognize same-sex marriages call
your state legislature and tell them you support full marriage

2) Help Repeal DOMA – Pass the Respect for Marriage

In September, Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced the Respect for
Marriage Act in the United States House of Representatives−with
91 original cosponsors! This bill will repeal the discriminatory
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ensure that legal marriages of
all couples are recognized by the federal government. Repealing
DOMA is critical to ensuring that ALL marriages are treated equally
for the federal government.

Did you know?


  • Prevents states from recognizing valid civil marriages of
    same-sex couples
  • Carves same-sex couples, even those who have taken on the
    serious legal responsibilities of civil marriage and are recognized
    as married under state law, out of all federal statutes,
    regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married
  • Prevents legally married same-sex couples from filing their
    federal taxes jointly.
  • Keeps families from receiving spousal, mother’s and
    father’s, or surviving spouse benefits under Social Security even
    though they pay into Social Security their entire careers.
  • Prevents people from taking unpaid leave to care for a sick or
    injured spouse.
  • Keeps same-sex families from receiving employer-provided family
    health benefits without paying an additional tax.
  • Fails to provide families with the safe harbor provisions in
    bankruptcy law.

DOMA undermines the very purposes of programs like Social Security
and the Family and Medical Leave Act by making it more difficult
for families to provide mutual support. Call your Representatives
and Senators at 202/224-3121 and tell him or her to co-sponsor and
vote for the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009.

3) Support Maine and Washington State in their attempts to
preserve marriage equality and relationship

Join Family Equality Council and Protect Maine
Equality on Facebook

Support Washington State in the fight to save the domestic
partnership law.

Same-sex marriage supporters rally at
State House

This piece is cross-posted at The Brown Daily Herald

The Brown Daily Herald
Providence, RI
Monday, October 19, 2009

Disappointment, anger and resilience were among the sentiments
expressed Saturday at a gay marriage rally sponsored by Marriage
Equality Rhode Island. About 150 same-sex marriage supporters
gathered on the south steps of the State House demanding
legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Despite cold weather, a spirited crowd attended the rally,
including natives of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and

Among the speakers at the rally was State Sen. Rhoda Perry P’91,
D-Dist. 3, who said that because “all five other sister New
England states have mandated that rights and privileges associated
with civil marriage extend to all of their citizens,” Rhode
Island too must “move on, and ensure that the legal rights to
marriage uniformly extend to all its citizens.” Perry, whose
district includes College Hill, has repeatedly introduced
legislation in the General Assembly to legalize same-sex

Supporters were urged to take action and send postcards to their
representatives — provided by MERI — declaring their support of
same-sex marriage legislation.
Ken Fish, a gay rights activist and retired state education
official, advised the crowd, “Don’t just get pissed off. Take
some action.”

“I think that anger needs to be expressed, because all of us have
been feeling that for a long time,” said Andrew Winters,
assistant to the vice president of student affairs and GLBT
programs and services at the University of Rhode Island. “And
this damn journey that we are on is taking too long.”

Several speakers in the rally denounced Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65,
who said at a Thursday fund-raiser for the Massachusetts Family
Institute that “gay marriage is not a civil right” and that he
gets “aggravated” when people call it that. On its Web site,
the MFI calls homosexuality “destructive to family, individuals
and society” and supports “the healing of those plagued by a
same-sex attraction.”

State Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Dist. 22, a former chair of MERI and an
openly gay state legislator, responded to Carcieri at the rally,
saying, “Guess I know what one of my roles is at the State House:
I aggravate Governor Carcieri.”

Fish, the gay rights activist, said in response to the governor’s
remarks, that the word “aggravated” did not approach the
feeling of “how deeply this loss is felt by members of our
community,” adding that the governor reminded him of “the
Southern governors of a generation ago, attempting desperately (to
defend) segregation, all in the name of tradition.”

“I don’t want to be healed,” Fish added. “I don’t think
I’m sick and I don’t think it’s the plague. The plague is
right-wing bigotry.”

Fish also expressed anger toward Democratic legislators for their
failure to stand up for gay rights.

“A greater villain lurks in the legislature, and it’s so-called
Democratic leaders,” he said. “We need real progressive
Democrats, not conservatives that call themselves Democrats. They
would be Republicans in any other state.”

Despite the governor’s resistance, speakers at the rally were
hopeful that in the coming years Rhode Island will join the rest of
New England in legalizing same-sex marriage. Maine will hold a vote
Nov. 3 to uphold or repeal its existing same-sex legislation.

“We have a lot of work to do to get us there, but it will
happen,” said Patrick Crowley, chair of the legislative committee
of MERI. “We will always last one day longer than the other guys,
because we are right and our cause is just.”

“We are making progress, and we are in a crescendo,” Winters
said. “It’s good to see the young people working with the old
people, the straight people working with the gay people, the
students working with the community.”

M. Charles Bakst ’66, a former Providence Journal political
columnist and Herald editor-in-chief, told The Herald he was glad
he attended his first marriage equality rally as a supporter.

“I find these rallies both depressing and uplifting,” he said.
“It is dismaying to me that in 2009 there is still an argument
over this. Someday not too long from now people will look back on
this struggle and say, ‘What was that all about?’ ”