A Rhode Island Senate committee is still considering marriage equality legislation after last week’s marathon 12-hour open hearing, but a Catholic bishop claims that the Supreme Court cases are a sufficient reason to stall the bill. Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Providence Diocese released the following statement on Wednesday:
In light of the historic deliberations of the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage, it would be appropriate for the General Assembly of Rhode Island to defer any action on this critical issue for the time being. Any legislative action that is taken now could very well be rendered completely null and void by the decision of the Supreme Court expected this June. It is likely that the Supreme Court will decide this matter for us, one way or another. Let’s wait to see what the highest court of the land says about this issue which is so very important to many Rhode Islanders.
This statement is patently false. Nothing about either case before the Supreme Court could possibly impact Rhode Island’s marriage law, except to make same-sex marriage legal there (less likely) or ensure that all married couples receive federal benefits (more likely). The possibility of the former offers no compelling reason not to proceed with legalizing same-sex marriage in the meantime, and the potential of the latter actually shows that advancing the bill will do even more to support same-sex families in the state.
Tobin is playing the only card he has left to oppose marriage equality: delay, delay, delay. He’s counting on lawmakers not to remember that justice delayed is justice denied.