Democrat Frank Lombardi, the amiable Cranston School Committee member running to replace retiring State Senator Bea Lanzi, says he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Lombardi says he supports full civil rights for gays and lesbians, but that his faith prevents him from embracing gay marriage.
Lombardi, who fought efforts to take down the controversial prayer banner at Cranston High School West, is locked in a Democratic primary with Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, who is chair of the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality and a strong backer of same-sex nuptials.
Advocates considered Lanzi a likely "yes" vote for gay marriage in the state Senate. And she is not the only retiring incumbent who was in the "yes" column. Departing Providence Senator Rhoda Perry, for instance, was a strong supporter of same-sex marriage. All of those running to replace Perry, though, are considered solid "yes" votes.
With Speaker of the House Gordon Fox pledging to bring gay marriage up for a vote next session - and expected to win passage in his chamber - all eyes are on the state Senate. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, considered safe in this fall's election, is opposed to same-sex nuptials.
But if this fall's Senate elections will go a long way toward determining the fate of gay marriage in Rhode Island, it's not clear that candidates will be talking much about the issue during the campaign. Lombardi says the voters he has met knocking on doors are focused on jobs and the economy.