Well, there you have it. The question of same-sex marriage was proposed, heated debates occurred, both sides were heard and eventually there was a vote. The bill passed and it was signed into law. And last Thursday, the law took effect and same-sex couples in the state of Rhode Island could legally wed.
Ah, the democratic process at it’s finest.
While attending the wedding ceremony of Representative Frank Ferri and Anthony Caparco on Thursday evening, Larry Berman, the spokesperson for Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, commented that there was concerns protestors would turn out to the ceremony. Earlier in the day, the Westboro Baptist Church descended on our small state to protest outside Cranston City Hall and locations throughout Providence where same-sex couples could pick up their marriage licenses.
But just as it is the right of every same-sex couple to legally marry in our state, protesting is the legal right of those who oppose marriage equality.
Although many of us may not understand why a Topeka, Kansas-based church would travel to Rhode Island just to picket at city halls, it is nevertheless their right by law to do so. That is exactly the reason why the Bill of Rights includes freedom of speech and the freedom to peacefully assemble. The definition of “peacefully” can always be called into question, but that is a topic for another day.
The topic for today is the success of the democratic process. A law was passed, and although every Rhode Islander may not agree with it, it is the law.
While there easily could have been a line of picketers at any number of same-sex marriage ceremonies during the weekend, there has been no word on any ceremony protests aside from those put on by the Westboro Baptist Church.
There were, however, counter-protests by marriage equality advocates against the Westboro group.
So has the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations simply accepted the idea that the democratic process was followed, and as a result there is a new law to abide by? It would be difficult to argue that the voices of those who stood against marriage equality were not heard; they had years of debate to speak up.
Personal feelings aside, as of last Thursday, the law is the law. That is understood, and in a civilized manner the process has worked. For that, Rhode Islanders should be proud.