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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Marriage equality – Senate head count is close by all accounts

Sen. Dennis Algiere – undecided – is a critical swing vote
Sen. Dennis Algiere - critical swing vote
By Will Collette

If you are one of 57% of Rhode Islanders who strongly believes it’s time for Rhode Island to join the rest of New England in authorizing same sex marriage, there’s a job for you to do.

Marriage equality legislation passed the RI House by a wide margin. Local Representatives Donna Walsh, Larry Valencia, Teresa Tanzi and Bob Craven were sponsors of the House bill.

Now it’s time for the RI Senate to vote and the outlook for that vote is for a very close vote. Neither supporters nor opponents claim to have the votes. Both sides agree that the issue is still very much in the air.

Local State Senators Cathie Cool Rumsey and Sue Sosnowski are both co-sponsors of the Senate bill, so their “yes” vote is assured.

However, the Senate Minority Leader, Republican Dennis Algiere of Westerly has not declared a position. Algiere represents the South of One part of Charlestown.
Algiere's District 38 runs all along the coast
from Watch Hill through South Kingstown

Dave Sharfenberg at the Providence Phoenix lists Algiere as one of ten Senators in the middle of the debate whose ultimate decision will decide the issue. He lists Algiere as “a toss-up at the moment.”

Algiere is a member of that rare and dying breed – a truly moderate Republican who is far more moderate than the DINOs (“Democrats in Name Only”) who often dominate on issues like this. So there is a pretty good chance that he will pay attention to well argued, reasonable points of view.

No date has been set for the Senate to vote. However, Senate President Theresa Paiva-Weed, a past opponent of marriage equality, has been under mounting pressure to get the vote scheduled without undue delay.

If you live in Senator Algiere’s district, you should let him know where you, as one of his constituents, stand. Even if you don’t live in his district, if you have a cogent position to argue, let him hear it.

You can contact him by e-mail, snail mail or phone:

6 Elm Street
Westerly, RI 02891
Phone: 401-222-2708