The committee met today to hear testimony on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and a joint resolution which puts the issue on the ballot, extending the right of religious people, organizations or institutions to choose not to officiate or provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples. The senator said he supports legalizing same-sex marriage and does not wish to put the issue on the ballot. He called the first bill granting matrimonial rights to same-sex couples an act of humanity and an establishment of equality.
I do believe that this legislation affording equality to those who marry, regardless of gender, serves to strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it. To unify the family unit, not divide it. And to those who may be inclined to oppose this legislation based on their understanding of their religious faith and beliefs, I say they do not need to fear that this bill will in any way infringe upon their religious rights, Senator Pichardo said.
When two people who love each other are able to join in the ultimate union, Senator Pichardo said only then will society have truly allowed love to be the determining factor in a marriage without being limited by judgment, not obstructed by law and not in adherence to a tradition for traditions sake. He urges his colleagues on the committee to allow the bill to come to a floor vote and to keep an open mind when considering a groups freedoms and rights.
Sponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), the bill legalizing same-sex marriage (2013-S 0038) would change terminology on marrying from gender-based to non-gender-based. It also redefines the term marriage and addresses prohibitions to marriage, state and federal law recognition, applicability in the state of Rhode Island, marriage licenses, protection of freedom of religion in marriages and the merger of civil unions into marriages.