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Many faith groups in RI support marriage equality

Many faith groups in RI support marriage equality

As the Rhode Island Senate nears a vote on marriage equality, a myriad of religious groups and leaders have rallied and are working to see the legislation passed.

From the HRC Blog:

Among the amazing volunteers working with the campaign have been a myriad of faith communities. The Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisely, the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran New England Synod James Hazelwood, the Rhode Island Council of Churches and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry have all come forward to endorse the campaign. In addition, a new faith group, Catholics for Marriage for Marriage Equality, formed to give a voice to lay Catholics in support of the freedom to marry. The group has over 200 members and is adding members daily.

The activation of faith communities was evidenced during the Senate committee hearings. Fourteen clergy members testified in favor of marriage equality. Many of them stayed until 5:00 in the morning to have their turn to speak. It was demonstrated again last Sunday when the denomination heads of both the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association traveled to Rhode Island to speak for marriage equality. Over 300 people rallied, prayed, and sang with them. People of faith have been having heartfelt conversations with their senators in congregations across the state about marriage and have helped the campaign make a video against proposed exemption language.


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Oh, something like 60% of the state population support marriage equality. The problem is that the Senate hasn’t so far, and doesn’t seem likely to do so now. And I don’t think that arguments based on the number of religious organizations in favor or not are likely to sway them.

Ironically, Bishop Tobin, the RC bishop, has pushed for a referendum on the issue, but the Governor has opposed it (I assume on the completely correct grounds that basic rights aren’t a matter of majority will). If the electorate actually turned out and voted its convictions, we’d have marriage equality. I suspect, however, that the Right would be more successful in getting people to the polls.

Bill Dilworth

Jim Naughton

Fortunately, Bill, Roman Catholic voters support marriage equality by margins slightly higher than the public at large.


So a lot of religious groups in Rhode Island support marriage equality. That’s interesting, but ultimately not as important for this debate as you might think.

According to 2009 data, 55% of the state population identify themselves as religious adherents.

44% of the state population is Roman Catholic. NB: that’s 44% of the people in RI, NOT 44% of religiously identified residents.

We have a lot of religious groups here, and always have – it’s part of the reason that the colony was founded. But the vast majority of the religiously affiliated belong to one sole group.

Bill Dilworth

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