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Video: Groups For and Against Same-Sex Marriage Square Off at Contentious Rhode Island Marriage Equality Hearing


It was standing room only in Providence Rhode Island last night, as the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on a marriage equality bill.

Watch videos, AFTER THE JUMP...

The AP:

Chairs in the Senate committee room filled up hours early. Opponents and supporters lined hallways outside with capitol police officers standing by. Opponents of gay marriage standing outside had to be quieted after loudly chanting "one man, one woman."

"Marriage between one man and one woman is more sacred than anything," said Roy Gustafson, a Warwick auto body technician who took time off work to protest the legislation. "We're being bullied into this by states like Massachusetts. Rhode Island should stand up and say we're not going to do it."

And from the Providence Journal, the story of a cancer patient who testified last night:

Baker_ri On Thursday night, accompanied by her wife, Deborah Tevyaw, whom she married in Massachusetts, Baker testified at a Senate hearing.

“Every American is entitled to their civil rights under our Constitution. And it’s Rhode Island’s time to do the right thing,” Baker said. “I don’t feel any Rhode Islander wants to see another deprived of their civil rights. I hope I live to see this dream come true.”

Baker, a 51-year-old correctional officer, was never a gay-rights activist. But after doctors diagnosed her with incurable lung cancer in December, she got an added jolt. The federal Defense of Marriage Act [currently under legal challenge] precludes Tevyaw from collecting the Social Security benefits Baker earned for a surviving spouse.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island will not change that for now.

Nonetheless, the discovery stunned Baker, leading her to embark on what may well be her first and last act of bravery in the name of marriage equality.

 Watch a report on last night's Rhode Island hearings which includes an interview with Baker, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. No argument can be made against same sex marriage that is not based in religion, which has no place in government. I just don't understand why people care so much about something that does not, and will not ever, personally affect them.

    Posted by: Chadd | Mar 11, 2011 10:48:10 AM

  2. I'd love to tell Suzanne Baptista that marriage is a SECULAR institution in the United States. Straight couples DON'T HAVE TO BE RELIGIOUS to get married in this country. So if you don't have to be religious, then how can you use religious arguments against same-sex marriage? You can't. End of discussion.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Mar 11, 2011 11:11:43 AM

  3. I feel for the lady dying of cancer, but if she just recently discovered, and was SHOCKED to find out, that her partner doesn't get her social security after her death because the federal government doesn't recognize her marriage she's either an idiot or she's been living under a rock.

    That's a HUGE part of the problem in our civil rights struggle. So many gay people are stunningly ignorant about, or ambivalent about, the civil rights they are denied and how being denied these rights affects them, or some day WILL affect them, in profoundly negative ways.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Mar 11, 2011 11:52:08 AM

  4. Evangelical pentecostal Hispanics are going to a huge problem for gays in America. And their numbers are exploding, very fast growing demographic. Secular Americans are by comparison stagnant or dying off.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 11, 2011 1:28:17 PM

  5. @ TAMPAZEKE: chill dude. She may have been uninformed or she may have been explaining it that way for effect. It's also confusing when the state says you're married but the feds don't—and it's unconstitutional so it just doesn't make sense.

    Yes, people are often uninformed. We all need to do our part to change that.

    Posted by: David R. | Mar 11, 2011 3:33:42 PM

  6. Why don't these Hispanics go back to the place they came from. They breed like rabbits and go on welfare or on disabilty.

    Posted by: tony | May 1, 2011 2:10:33 PM

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