Rhode Island Hub
Gordon Fox, the gay Rhode Island House Speaker who helped bring marriage equality to the state in 2012, has resigned from his leadership post and will not run for re-election following a federal raid of his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation. AP reports:
"Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker," Fox said in a written statement emailed to reporters. "The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner."
The 52-year-old Providence Democrat, who became the nation's first openly gay House speaker in 2010, said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term through the end of the year, but that "my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation."
The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials have yet to comment on the nature of the investigation.
Earlier this year, Fox ran into trouble with the state ethics commission for failing to disclose more than $40,000 in legal work for a Province economic development agency. He agreed to pay a $1,500 fine.
OutSports has profiled Stephen Alexander, America’s first openly transgender high school coach who is speaking out about his process of transitioning from Jennifer to Stephen, coming from a conservative small town in New England. Growing up in Gloucester, Rhode Island, a town still imbued with the “old yankee mentality” and replete with "super Republican strongholds,” Stephen felt at odds with his community and his own body.” He was an athletic superstar, a tomboy and desperately wanting to become the boy he knew he was:
"He was very uncomfortable as a girl," his mother, Linda Dandrow, remembered. Looking back at the signs, she wondered why she didn't see it coming. "He often referred to his breasts as tumors. ‘Those are tumors on my chest, I want to get them off.'"
Though Stephen knew he was a boy since the age of five, his family struggled to understand his coming out to them as transgender:
It was desperately confusing to them. "Transgender" wasn't even a vocabulary word taught in school. They had never heard of it. They were convinced the "girl" they knew was simply a lesbian, which they could understand. Some therapy, they assumed, would straighten him all out.
Instead, the therapy straightened out his family. It took years, but eventually they came to realize — with the help of a psychiatrist — that Alexander wasn't a lesbian, and that one of the treatments for his situation was gender-reassignment surgery.
"One of the things [the psychiatrist] said was the brain is male and the body is female, and there is a disconnect," his mother Linda said...Ultimately, his parents accepted that he was transgender and that he wanted to get gender-reassignment surgery. Together they made the trip to New York City to be with their son for the procedure.
However, after leaving Rhode Island for New York, a place “where people would accept me initially from the get-go, rather than seeing me through what's going on in their head,” he finally decided to return home to Gloucester and his passion for sports, a passion that he says saved him, and began coaching:
Alexander has already coached five different sports from middle school to high school: basketball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and baseball. He's coached both girl's and boy's teams. He's been an assistant coach and a head coach.
"Now he's back and he's coaching as a male in the system that he went through as a female," said Alexander's proud sister. "And people are soliciting him for coaching” [...]
Coaching has given him a way to engage the community in a positive way, to impact the youth and families on a level they can't ignore. That wasn't his plan — he was simply looking to follow his passion for sports and contribute to youth in a meaningful way. What it's done is give people a way to understand more easily that Alexander is — like them — just another human being.
Providence College, a Roman Catholic school in Rhode Island, has canceled a lecture by author, lecturer, professor of philosophy, and same-sex marriage supporter John Corvino, the NYT reports:
The lecturer, John Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University, in Detroit, has spoken previously at more than 10 Catholic colleges and often appears in friendly debates with religious opponents of gay marriage. His appearance at Providence College had been co-sponsored by nine departments and programs, and some of the organizers said the cancellation surprised them.
The cancellation was announced by the college’s provost on Saturday, one day after the Roman Catholic Church was rocked by the publication of a long interview in which Pope Francis called for the church to “find a new balance” by refraining from frequent condemnations of homosexuality, abortion and birth control, and emphasizing mercy and love.
Said the college: “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
RI Catholic Priest Tells Lawmakers Who Approved Marriage Equality He Will Campaign Against Them in Church
A Rhode Island Catholic priest emailed Rhode Island lawmakers who approved same-sex marriage legislation telling them that he would be preaching against their reelection from the pulpit, RI Future reports:
“I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God,” said an email purportedly from Father Brian Sistare, who is now the priest at Sacred Heart in Woonsocket. “I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected.”
As non-profit entities, churches are legally forbidden from engaging in political campaign activity.
The email was sent to the 26 state senators who voted for marriage equality and was signed and seemingly sent by Sistare.
Rhode Island's marriage equality law came into effect on August 1.
Sistare's full email, courtesy of RI Future, AFTER THE JUMP...
As earlier anticipated, at 12:01 AM this morning same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota and Rhode Island, upping the number of states where gay couples can be legally wed to 13. According to The Star Tribune, couples in Minneapolis started marrying at city hall just after midnight, with Mayor R.T. Rybak and his staff officiating over 42 weddings. The ceremonies and celebrations went on early into the morning, with food trucks, jitneys and even the local Hotel Minneapolis joining in the merriment of what Governor Mark Dayton declared, "Freedom to Marry Day." Though many Minnesotans remain divided on same-sex marriage, at least one couple hoped that same-sex marriages would help to change the hearts and minds of Minnesotans opposed to marriage equality:
“Our wedding will be about celebration and commitment, but will also be about sharing our lives to help people better understand how much the same we all are,” said Phil Oxman, who married his partner 38 years shortly after 1 a.m. in Minneapolis City Hall.
Wedding ceremonies in Rhode Island did not start until after 8:30 AM Thursday morning when local offices opened for business, though some had expected the ceremonies to commence after midnight as they did in Minnesota. Many have speculated that Rhode Island will not experience as big of a "rush to marry" given that it is the last New England state to legalize marriage equality and many same-sex couples in Rhode Island wed out of state in neighboring Connecticut or Massachusetts. Indeed, Rhode Island's new marriage equality law will recognize those out of state marriages as legal and valid thus eliminating many couple's need to seek an additional ceremony. Still, the state saw gay couples waiting outside to make it legal as city halls opened for business. According to Boston.com:
Kent Stetson and Luis Astudillo were among a handful of couples that came to Providence City Hall first thing to get a license. They planned to get married later in the day, on a street in downtown where they took a memorable walk on their first date 12 years ago.
‘‘We are securing our rights today. We would have been married years ago if we could,’’ Stetson said.
In Newport, a couple that have been together for 41 years, Federico Santi and John Gacher, were previously joined in a civil union, so they were immediately married after getting their license. They had no plans for an extravagant ceremony, saying that in their eyes, their marriage began in August 1972.
‘‘It’s certainly not going to change our lives, but it’s going to change the lives of lots of young people, and that’s what we are really proud of: that now they have the opportunity to get married if they choose to,’’ Santi said.
Congratulations to all the happy couples celebrating today!
(Caption photo via Twitter)