Opinion: Rhode Island Beats Illinois To Gay Marriage

The Rhode Island Senate passed a gay marriage bill Wednesday. Once Gov. Lincoln Chafee signs it, Rhode Island will become the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

We’re falling behind, Illinois!

Every New England state will soon have gay marriage. That’s in addition to New York, Iowa, Maryland and Washington. All the blue states are doing it. California, which passed a referendum banning gay marriage in 2008, is now refusing to defend that position before the Supreme Court. In Hawaii, the bluest state of all, a state senate committee recommended a task force to study same sex marriage.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passed the state senate, and is said to have 55 to 57 of the necessary votes in the House. Speaker Michael Madigan and his daughter, Attorney General Lisa, are pushing for the bill’s passage. The toughest votes? Black lawmakers who are under pressure from the African-American Clergy Coalition to vote no. 
The risk of a black lawmakers losing his seat seems minimal, though. They can’t lose their seats to Republicans, and in 2014, is any Democrat going to run a primary campaign on the issue of opposing same-sex marriage? The winner wouldn’t have a lot of friends in the House Democratic Caucus. More likely, a black legislator trying to move up to alderman, county board, state senate or Congress would be denied a Sunday appearance at a conservative black church. That’s a valuable endorsement in the black community, so that may be enough to make a politician hesitate before pressing “yes.” 
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