With openly gay Speaker of the House Gordon Fox expected to push a same-sex marriage bill through his chamber this month, all eyes have been on the Senate - and, specifically, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed's appointments to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will have jurisdiction over the matter.
Well today, Paiva Weed - an opponent of gay nuptials - finally named 10 members to the panel. And at first blush, it looks like the bill will have trouble getting out of committee and onto the floor.
At least four members of the committee - chairman Michael McCaffrey, Harold Metts, Leo Raptakis, and Frank Lombardi - are "no" votes. And a fifth appointee, new Senator Bill Conley, may be a "no" as well. Dan McGowan of golocalprov tweets that Katie Kleyla, a former colleague of Conley's on the East Providence town council, recalls him making "a huge speech about religion and marriage sanctity" when she introduced a pro-gay marriage resolution.
If the committee gridlocks at 5-5, the senate president, majority
leader, and minority leader - ex officio members of every committee -
could step in and vote. Majority Leader Dominick Ruggiero, like Paiva Weed, is considered a "no" vote.
But Conley is publicly uncommitted, at the moment. And same-sex marriage advocates are privately arguing that it is premature to declare the bill dead.
This line of thinking has Paiva Weed creating some deliberate ambiguity about the fate of the bill, perhaps to extract some concessions on other matters from Speaker Fox.
That, of course, assumes that the measure would be subject to the usual horse trading. And some insiders say the emotionally charged nature of the bill might - rarity of rarities - elevate conscience over politics.
Still, one thing is clear: Paiva Weed could have stacked the committee against the the measure and she didn't. That gives advocates some hope.