Tonight's Democratic primaries were not kind to gay marriage supporters, who claimed just one of six key state senate races. Pro-same sex nuptials candidate Adam Satchell scored a decisive victory over Senator Michael Pinga. But five other gay marriage backers - David Gorman, Gene Dyszlewski, Laura Pisaturo, Lewis Pryeor, and Robert DaSilva - lost.
There will be opportunities for a couple of pick-ups in the general election come November. But advocates will be playing defense in a few places, too.
After tonight, then, it is hard to see a significant change in the balance of power in a state senate where about half of current members are opposed to gay marriage, a third are in support, and the rest are in the toss-up category, according to a Phoenix analysis.
A last-minute surge of money from Tim Gill, a Colorado technology magnate who has funded state-level legislative races for years in a bid to tip the balance on same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues, appears to have failed. (And that surge may have been larger than initially believed, as I reported earlier tonight.)
The only consolation for advocates is that none of the races - with the possible exception of Pisaturo's challenge to state Senator Michael McCaffrey - can be read as a referendum on gay marriage, which was little mentioned on the campaign trail. Indeed, public polling suggests solid majority support for same-sex nuptials in Rhode Island, which bodes well in the long term.
But it looks like it's going to be tough, in the short term, for advocates to turn public support into actual legislation.