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Rhode Island Firefighters Allege Rights Were Violated Following Order To Drive In Gay Pride Parade - VIDEO

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A lawyer for Providence, Rhode Island has argued that former city mayor Buddy Cianci did not violate the rights of firefighters ordered to drive a fire truck in a 2001 Gay Pride parade, reports StarTribune.

A lawyer for the two firefighters yesterday told the Rhode Island Supreme Court that her clients' constitutional religion and free speech rights were violated when they were ordered to take part in the parade.

Representing Cianci, Kevin McHugh, who said the case is “ridiculous,” argued that the city sent trucks to various parades as a matter of course and driving in the 2001 Gay Pride parade was part of the firefighters' regular duties.

Although the firefighters' lawyer argued that the act of participating in the parade suggested that they supported gay rights, justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg said they are “anonymous public servants” and compared Cianci’s order to being called to fight a fire in a temple or in a mosque.

Cianci, who was forced from office in 2002 following a conviction for corruption and is currently in the midst of a campaign to win back City Hall, said if elected he would likely make the same decision again.

Back in June, Brett Smiley, another candidate for the mayoral race in Providence, claimed in a campaign video that he proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation.

Watch an NBC report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Providence Mayoral Candidate Brett Smiley Features Husband in Charming Campaign Ad: VIDEO

Smiley

Brett Smiley proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation, or so says the Providence, Rhode Island mayoral candidate's new campaign ad. Thus, he's organized!

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Marriage Equality Just Hours Away For Minnesota And Rhode Island

Minnesota Equality
The stroke of midnight on Thursday, August 1st, will mark the beginning for marriage equality in two new states: Minnesota and Rhode Island. Now that the time is just hours away, LGBT residents, supporters, and opponents are scrambling in the last few hours to make their goals a reality. 

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the City Hall of Minneapolis will be "hosting an extravaganza at City Hall tonight where Mayor R.T. Rybak will officiate at the marriage of 42 same-sex couples." The term "extravaganza" refers not only to the marathon of same-sex marriage, but the lavish celebration afterwards that will reportedly "stretch well into Thursday morning," and include "performances by local musicians, a brass quintet and a reception at the nearby Hotel Minneapolis." Rybak staffer Andy Holmaas told MPR about how the celebration comes partially as the result of an outpouring of generosity from community members and businesses alike. "People have been bending over backwards at the slightest ask -- an unbelievable outpouring," he said. "It's not surprising, but it's still really inspiring to see Minneapolis and the whole region just jump on board to do everything they can."

Midnight ceremonies are also planned at the courthouses of Minnesota's Polk and Clay counties. St. Paul has one scheduled to take place at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Mall of America will also be hosting its first same-sex wedding celebration at the Chapel of Love at 12:01. More ceremonies are scheduled to take place across the state later on in the morning, with many couples opting to say their vows with the added pleasure of daylight. 

As was noted by MPR, Minnesota's ultimate embrace of marriage equality comes riding the tide of a rapid shift in public opinion. Not only did the state ban same-sex unions at one point, but one prior attempt to repeal the ban died when the measure was sent to voters for approval:

"After a divisive campaign that spurred many...to activism, Minnesota voters rejected the measure in November 2012 and gave the DFL control of both houses of the Legislature as well as the governor's office. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved legalizing same-sex marriage, and Gov. Mark Dayton signed the measure into law on May 14."

Rhode Island EqualityMeanwhile, in Rhode Island, city and town clerks have already been preparing to issue licenses, and have also fielded a high volume of calls from couples who were either interested in marriage licenses, or simply unsure as to the legal situation regarding their own union. The Providence Journal reports that:

"Providence and Pawtucket appeared to be the busiest as the Aug. 1 date approaches, with at least 7 couples taking advantage of a pre-registration period in Providence and more than 10 people calling with questions in Pawtucket. The questions have dealt with everything from what’s needed to get a marriage license to what a couple with a civil union has to do to marry to whether a couple that married elsewhere can marry here in Rhode Island."

Thanks to the new law, those wishing to apply for a license and get married, be they from inside or out of the state, will be able to do so. Those wishing to go from a civil union to a legal marriage have two options. They can either opt to have another ceremony declaring themselves legally married, or they can have their existing civil union license "merged" into a marriage license, eliminating the need for a ceremony. 

One of the first same-sex marriages in Rhode Island will take place in Providence, where State Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, will wed husband Tony Caparco once again. The two were married in Vancouver in 2006, but opted to have another ceremony to celebrate their legislative victory. Their ceremony will be officiated by House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, who championed the state's new same-sex marriage legislation.

Same-sex marriage ceremonies in Rhode Island will begin tomorrow in spite of a legal challenge that was filed yesterday in a Providence Superior Court. The challenge comes via Ronald L’Heureux, a cofounder of the Faith Alliance to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage as Defined by God. L'Heureux brought with him a petition and complaint in an attempt to obtain a restraining order and stop the marriages. Luckily, Judge Daniel A. Procaccini promptly denied the request, and instead opted to schedule a hearing for August 9th. When asked exactly why he wished to obtain a temporary restraining order against all of the state's same-sex couples, the L'Heureux, who chose to represent himself, argued that same-sex couples would be violating the religious liberties of himself and others by having their unions recognized in the public sphere. “It violates the Constitution and causes irreparable harm, and once it passes they’re going to teach my children and grandchildren conduct that’s reprehensible to my faith,” he said in court.

Towleroad wishes to congratulate those couples who will be tying the knot tomorrow in the two states. 13 down...37 to go.


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

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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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Watch: Providence Mayoral Candidate Belts One Out

Young

Earlier this week, FOX Providence morning show The Rhode Show interviewed mayoral candidate Chris Young, and made the mistake of asking him what he does for fun. This host must have been valedictorian at Keeping a Straight Face school.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Young proposed to his girlfriend during last night's debate, and earlier this year had to be escorted from another debate for refusing to remove a large statue of the Virgin Mary he had brought with him.

Continue reading "Watch: Providence Mayoral Candidate Belts One Out" »


Watch: NOM Pastor Speaks in Tongues to Save Marriage from Gays

Pastor

The National Organization for Marriage has a whole cast of characters to accompany them on their 23-city hate-a-palooza tour.

In addition to victims of imaginary bullying, they have Pastor Jay Stirnemann, who used his own special language in Providence, RI to ward off the evil gays who are destroying the world for wanting to get married.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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