Reaffirming its longstanding opposition to a statewide referendum on marriage equality, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage released the following statement today in response to the filing of a bill introduced today by Sen. Frank Ciccone, which seeks to amend the Rhode Island Constitution to include the definition of marriage.
“Fundamental human rights, including the freedom to marry the person we love, don’t belong on the ballot and should not be subjected to a vote of the majority,” said Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage.
“We agree with Speaker Gordon Fox – there are some issues on which you just don’t ‘punt.’ Members of the General Assembly are elected to lead, and to make important decisions. Calling for a divisive and harmful referendum fight is an abdication of the most basic responsibility of our legislators,” added Sullivan.
“In addition, the bill overwhelming passed by the House contains appropriate and commonsense protections for the religious liberty of those faith traditions who choose not allow same-sex couples to marry under the terms of their own dogma. Allowing businesses and institutions to discriminate – by reversing current state anti-discrimination law – against their fellow Rhode Islanders under the guise of religious freedom is both disingenuous and offensive.”
The protections included of HB5015 have been enthusiastically endorsed and supported by numerous faith leaders, including the Episcopal Bishop of Providence, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, and the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry.”
Marriage equality is recognized in nine states including the District of Columbia. No other state legislature has ever proactively sought a referendum on the freedom to marry.