Yes and no, I think. In the short term, it amps up the pressure on Senator Jack Reed, the one member of the state's Congressional delegation who has not yet come out in favor of same-sex marriage, to do so. Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) is already taking it to him:
"Today, President Obama reaffirmed the American ideal that all citizens
should be treated equally.
UPDATE: Chip Unruh, spokesman for Senator Reed, sends this comment: "This is an important issue. The senator always appreciates hearing from Rhode Islanders and takes their input into consideration."
A coalition of local and national advocates for same-sex marriage have launched a campaign urging Senator Jack Reed to join the other three members of the Rhode Island delegation in supporting a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Congressman James Langevin, who had long supported civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, made a bit of a splash in May when he went a step further: endorsing same-sex marriage with an op-ed in the Providence Journal.
Earlier this month, another ripple that didn't go much noticed: Langevin signed on as the 121st co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act that blocks federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Faithful readers - I'll be out of action for the next couple of weeks, but keep an eye on this space. If all goes according to plan, we should have a lively guest blogger in place. In the meanwhile, if you didn't catch it, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how New York's recently approved gay marriage bill got through the legislature there in the New York Times this weekend.
The death of Governor Chafee's two-tiered sales tax proposal and the gay marriage bill he advocated have prompted more than a few declarations of irrelevance.
But with Smith Hill Democrats set to caucus today, and a formal budget proposal expected in the coming days, it may be time to re-evaluate.
That budget, by most accounts, will include some sort of sales tax expansion.
A day after Rhode Island's House of Representatives passed a compromise civil unions measure, as widely expected, Gallup has released a poll finding - for the first time in its history - majority support nationwide for gay marriage, with 53 percent in support and 45 percent opposed. A nine-point surge of support in the last year alone shows how quickly opinion is evolving.
Bill Fischer, spokesman for Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) - the state's leading same-sex marriage lobby - has resigned from the group out of frustration over its direction.
"I am extremely frustrated with the current strategy and I have been for a long time," he says.
Among Fischer's concerns: a failure to directly engage Bishop Thomas J.
Pro-gay marriage advocacy group MERI, which hasn't yet given up on same-sex nuptials legislation, is planning a rally at the State House tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.
"We are rallying to let everyone know we will not accept the legalized discrimination civil unions would create," says Ray Sullivan, the former state representative running the MERI campaign.
The Catholic Church's opposition to civil unions, reaffirmed in a new editorial in the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper, presents Catholic lawmakers with a quandary around whether to endorse the civil unions push on Smith Hill.
But they are not the only lawmakers with a difficult choice to make. Strong supporters of same-sex marriage, who are hoping to keep the gay nuptials bill alive, also have a choice to make if it comes down to civil unions or nothing this session: embrace what could amount to a stepping stone to gay marriage or reject what many in the movement consider an unacceptable compromise.
GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), which has been active on the gay marriage push in Rhode Island, is slamming openly gay Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, who has announced that he is abandoning the push for a same-sex nuptials bill in the face of Senate opposition and backing a civil unions bill.
The legal advocacy group is particularly troubled that Fox cited the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a letter to colleagues on the matter.
It ain't exactly James O'Keefe - it's milder, not as covert, and it comes from the left. But it's interesting nonetheless: an interview with Christopher Plante, executive director of the anti-gay marriage National Organization for Marriage - Rhode Island. Shot and edited by Steve Levin, it was entered in the International Documentary Challenge, which asks filmmakers to produce short docs under time constraints.
Last week, I wrote a cover story for the Phoenix on the Smith Hill battle over same-sex marriage.
Partisans on both sides are focused, at the moment, on the lobbying effort in the General Assembly. But hanging over that effort is the prospect of electioneering, by advocates and opponents alike, in the 2012 races.
Some of the senators I spoke with voiced doubt that a single issue could make or break their re-election efforts.
I've got an inside peek at the same-sex marriage fight roiling the State House in today's Phoenix. And there was plenty that landed on the cutting-room floor. One thing to keep an eye on in the General Assembly: the amendment process.
Same-sex marriage opponents, in both houses, are likely to propose an amendment that would send the question to the voters.
A new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has 50 percent of Rhode Islanders favoring same-sex marriage and 41 percent opposed. It's a good number for advocates. And the long-term picture is even better.
Young people overwhelmingly support gay marriage, according to the poll: 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are in favor and just 31 percent opposed.
The state's chief anti-gay marriage group, the National Organization for Marriage - Rhode Island, got substantial ink last month for a television ad suggesting Governor Chafee - elected with 36 percent of the vote - does not have a mandate to push through a same-sex marriage bill.
But there was a small reply - an radio ad that ran last week supporting same-sex marriage and arguing that separate isn't equal.