Representative Arthur Corvese makes no excuses for his extreme anti-LGBTQ point of view. Despite this reputation, two constituents were surprised and offended when Corvese, in a conversation about legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, made bizarre anti-LGBTQ comments on the House floor.
Barbara Swanson and Barbara Reis are both members of Everytown for Gun Safety, and were at the State House as part of a lobby day to speak to their representatives about The Protect Rhode Island Families Act, which would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
In a phone conversation Swanson told me that during their conversation Corvese held up a cup and said, “This isn’t alcohol.” Corvese then said that gun laws are a slippery slope, like laws that protect the equal rights of gay people. “First they want equal housing, then education, then jobs, now they can marry!”
Swanson and Reid were offended. “What if I were gay?” Swanson asked me during our call.
Corvese has been a longtime opponent of civil and human rights for LGBTQ persons. Corvese continues to vote against solemnization of marriage bills for same sex couples and in 2012 he was the author of the so-called “Corvese Amendment” which undermined the very rights the civil union law attempted to protect in the years before marriage equality was passed in Rhode Island.
There has been no reply to an email sent to Larry Berman, communications director for the Office of the Speaker for clarification on Corvese’s comments.
Swanson told Sam Rubenstein, another Everytown for Gun Safety activist and a gay man, about Corvese’s comments. Rubenstein sent out a series of tweets.
“I’ve spoken to Corvese before,” said Swanson. “I know his stand on the second amendment. We’re never going to get his vote, but when he was talking to me, I was shaking my head, like, where’s he going with this?
“I mean, obviously Corvese doesn’t believe [LGBTQ people] should get married, but he doesn’t believe they should have human rights either,” said Swanson.
“I’m going public with this,” said Swanson, “because part of the problem with Trump and why he got in is because the press never said, ‘This guy’s an asshole and he’s lying.’ So I said to my friends, ‘Why can’t we call [Corvese] out?’ and they said, ‘You certainly can,’ so I’m calling him out.”