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Political Outlook: Time for RI to Support Same-Sex Marriage

Published:  Monday, February 27, 2012

Author:  Brett Broesder, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™


A Same-Sex Marriage Bill will be introduced in Rhode Island this year, according to Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

With recent polls showing that a majority of voters support legalizing Same-Sex Marriage – in addition to Maryland on the cusp of becoming the eighth state in the nation to legalize marriage equality – the issue is at the forefront of local and national news.

That said, Rhode Island politicians should embrace this groundswell of public support,and move the Ocean State beyond Civil Unions by supporting the legalization of Same-Sex Marriage.

A key reason for supporting marriage equality is that voters are in favor of it.

Majority Support Same-Sex Marriage

More Rhode Islanders support Same-Sex Marriage legalization than oppose it by a nearly double-digit margin, according to a 2011 Public Policy Poll.

Even more noteworthy about these findings is that amongst Democrat and Independent affiliated voters, nearly three out of five support legalizing Same-Sex Marriage. This is significant because according to Gallup, the vast majority of Rhode Island voters either affiliate as Democrat or Independent.

The issue is also gaining popularity with voters nation-wide.A recent New York Times/ABC News poll found that 63 percent of voters support recognizing same-sex relationships in some capacity. Moreover, of that 63 percent, by a nearly two-to-one margin they favor legalizing Same-Sex Marriage versus passing a Civil Unions law.

Politicians are taking note, and pushing for passage of Same-Sex Marriage Laws across the country.

Two noteworthy elected officials who are behind this nation-wide effort are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Furthermore, both are well positioned to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Cuomo: “There’s no logic” in naysayers’ argument

Governor’s Cuomo and O’Malley both are not only siding with the majority of Americans on this issue, but are also mastering how to vocalize their support for it.

For example, after championing passage of a Same-Sex Marriage bill last year, Governor Cuomo was asked about his support for the issue during a recent interview with GQ Magazine.Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage in New York regularly argued that gay people should not get married because they can’t make babies.

In response to this argument by Same-Sex Marriage opponents, Governor Cuomo states:

“Oh, really? So then we should change the law to say, ‘Only people who can and want to make babies can get married.’ So an infertile man can't. A woman who can't, she can't get married. People who don't want to make a baby, they can't get married. So let's change the law so it says, ‘Only people who can and will make babies.’ ‘Well, we don't want to do that. You can get married if you don't want to make a baby or if you can't—except if you're gay!’ There's no logic.”

While Governor Cuomo asserts the illogical nature of arguments in opposition to Same-Sex Marriage, Governor O’Malley has framed it as an issue of dignity.

O’Malley: “Love is an Unalienable Right”

Governor O’Malley is currently in the midst of a Same-Sex Marriage legislation battle. And, he is slated to sign the bill into law next week, according to the Associated Press.

Throughout this debate in Maryland, Governor O’Malley has framed the issue as one of “human dignity” and “equal rights.” After passage of the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012 last week, Governor O’Malley put out a statement that included:

“The common thread running through our efforts together … is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual. Love is an unalienable right.”

Read the Remainder of the Original Article here at GoLocalProv.


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Does the Husband's Conduct constitute Gross Behavior or Wicked Conduct Repugnant to the Marital Covenant?

The more unusual RI grounds used as a basis for a divorce action are found in Rhode Island General Laws 15-5-2 et. seq.

Consider this rather unique hypothetical Rhode Island Divorce case that could be filed under Rhode Island General Laws 15-5-2(8) which is a seldom used grounds for divorce.

This hypothetical and its questions demonstrate how factual changes and/or allegations by a party might affect a RI Divorce proceeding for the parties, their minor children, the attorneys involved, and what the Rhode Island Family Court Judges sometimes have to consider in cases that diverge from the typical "irreconcilable differences" divorce cases.


In this hypothetical case, the husband is the primary wage earner of the family.   The parties have been married for eight years and have a couple children. Imagine that the the wife discovers that the husband was engaging in relationships with men and possibly other women.

After the wife discovers this about the husband she files for divorce under RI General Laws 15-5-2(8).

It should be noted that Rhode Island General Laws 15-5-2(8) is a grounds for divorce that is very seldom used in Rhode Island Family Court.

Section (8) states that a RI divorce may be granted for gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, repugnant to and in violation of the marriage covenant.

Hypothetically, a divorce case in Rhode Island such as this is one of considerable interest since it raises more questions than it actually answers for the parties, the lawyers and particularly for the Rhode Island Family Court.

Assume purely for this hypothetical that the husband may be a person of bi-sexual and/or homosexual orientation but has been unable to come to terms with his own sexuality.  What issues or questions might this type of situation raise?

Would it make any difference if the husband concealed bi-sexual and/or homosexual relationships from his wife and continued to have intimate relations with her without her knowledge?

Might a RI Judge consider that the husband's conduct constitutes "misbehavior and/or conduct or wickedness repugnant to and in violation of the marital covenant" as set forth in Rhode Island General Laws 15-5-2(8)?

However, let's change the hypothetical momentarily.  What if the husband continued bi-sexual and/or homosexual relations while also engaging in intercourse with his wife and recklessly caused her to get infections, disease and/or AIDS/HIV?  Might that affect a Rhode Island Judge's thought process on the subject?  

Let's twist our hypothetical marriage and divorce for a minute and arbitrarily consider a few questions.

Would it be possible if the husband were only having relationships with men to reasonably argue that he had not cheated on his wife because he had not committed a sexual act with the opposite sex?  Does RI law even say anything about this?

If one were just to consider the wife's burden of proof before the court, might the husband's extramarital conduct with men be considered gross misbehavior or wickedness as stated in Section 8 of the statute?

What affect if any might the fact that Massachusetts had approved same sex marriages for a time have on a Rhode Island Court's findings and rulings?

What kind of conduct is considered "repugnant to the marriage covenant" under Rhode Island law?

By the same token, what conduct would be considered "wickedness" as envisioned by the Rhode Island Statute?

Under any of these hypothetical scenarios, might there be any conduct by the husband which causes his conduct to reach the level of "gross misbehavior" and/or "wickedness"?

Please keep in mind that this article is not an attack, nor even a criticism of a bi-sexual, homosexual or lesbian lifestyle.  Rather, this is merely the application of a hypothetical with possible scenarios and questions that may or may not affect these seldom used grounds for divorce under Rhode Island law.  Specifically this is a preliminary consideration about whether actions under this hypothetical scenario and the various questions posed herein might fall within the divorce grounds provided by R.I. General Laws 15-5-2(8) as noted above.

Authored By:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

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Should a Rhode Island Family Court have the power to divorce two people it wouldn't have the power to marry?

A gay couple filed for divorce in Rhode Island.  They were married in Massachusetts shortly after the Commonwealth enacted a law allowing for same-sex marriages.

At the time, Rhode Island had no statutory authority or provision allowing for same-sex marriages. Therefore, the couple could not have been married within the State of Rhode Island if they had wanted to.  They were continuous residents of the State of Rhode Island for at least a year prior to filing for divorce as required by Rhode Island statute and therefore believed they properly filed for divorce in Rhode Island.

This posed a rather interesting question.  If Rhode Island did not allow or otherwise sanction same-sex marriages, should the Rhode Island Family Court have the power . . . or better yet does the Rhode Island Family Court have the jurisdiction to preside over a dissolution proceeding over a marriage that could not have been created within the State of Rhode Island.

Anyone caring to weigh in on this subject is welcome to do so, provided the response is not discriminatory and serves to address the issue.  The issue is not one of morality but rather one of legal rights and/or interpretation.

Since good healthy debate stirs the free flow of information and is the heart of good communication, I welcome you to post both the pros and cons, your opinion, etc..  Regardless of how the case may ultimately be decided, I'm interested in my reader's thoughts on this subject.