The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing yesterday about the proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage, with hundreds of supporters and opponents assembled to deliver speeches.
Outside the hearing, anti-gay opponents drowned out the testimonies. The scene included chanting and praying, as well as protester signs claiming that same-sex marriage threatened the so-called “natural order.” But plenty of supporters of marriage equality were on-hand to testify as well. Sixth grader Matthew Lannon, a supporter of the bill, made an appeal to lawmakers:
LANNON: Let me tell you about my parents. I have two moms and two dads, and an older sister. If you came to our house, you would feel the love that we all have for one another. We laugh a lot, we talk about our feelings, we argue, we are real. […] Having gay marriage won’t change our family, it will change the way that the state, and other people see our family; as normal just like everyone else.
Watch a video that includes scenes of the protesters as well as excerpts of Lannon’s testimony:
Clergy opposing the bill have framed their attacks on marriage equality as an issue of “religious liberty,” but discrimination is not a question of religious freedom. “I come from the religious position where I believe that same sex marriage is in fact, part of God’s plan,” same-sex marriage supporter Rev. Gene Dyszlewski said at the hearing. Over 100 religious leaders from 13 denominations have come together to support equality in Rhode Island.
The House committee may vote on the bill as early as next week, and from there it would move onto the the House floor. This time around, it will be brought to the Senate floor, two years after the Senate President did not allow the legislation to come to a vote.