Kettle: I'm a "yes" on gay marriage

Senator Nick Kettle (R-Coventry), whom I'd previously rated a "lean yes" on same-sex marriage, has gone on the record as a "yes."

Kettle, who hails from a conservative district, tells me he's received phone calls from "thousands" of constituents, including many Catholics who support gay nuptials.

And yet, Kettle is co-sponsoring legislation that would put the question before voters - legislation staunchly opposed by fellow same-sex marriage advocates, who say the majority shouldn't vote on the rights of a minority.

Kettle says his constituents favor a popular vote on the matter and that he's confident Rhode Islanders would approve gay nuptials. There is a precendent now, he notes: voters in four states sided with same-sex marriage supporters this fall - breaking a long streak of victories for opponents.

Kettle, then, embodies many of the crosscurrents in a contentious, confounding gay marriage debate that has split the Senate right down the middle.

He's a Republican who favors same-sex nuptials, in a chamber run by a Democrat who opposes it; he is a "yes" vote on gay marriage who favors a legislative route rejected by many of his compatriots; he is a conservative espousing a liberal position in a conservative district.

This could be complicated.

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