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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

7 responses to “Tobin Using Politics to Promote Bigoted Agenda”

  1. jgardner

    Well said Steve. I never understood the argument that an item such as this should be put on a ballot. Civil rights should never be left to a democratic process (aka tyranny of the majority).

    What I am curious about, and have never been able to confirm, is what law on the books currently prohibits same sex marriage? From what I can tell, there’s nothing in our State Constitution, there’s no State law, and nothing in the General Marriage Requirements document published by the Dept of Health, that has any kind of requirement that the applicants for a marriage license be of different genders. Anyone know?

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  2. cailin rua

    Here’s the revised statute: H 5015

    The old statute seems to limit marriage implicitly.  If you scroll down to page 3, lines 9-13, it says:

    “(1) The female Either party to the proposed marriage resides; or in the city or town in
    (2) The male party resides, if the female party is a nonresident of this state; or in the city or town in which

    The gendered references don’t show as struck in what I copied and pasted from the text but they are they are in the proposed statute. There is another struck reference to “bride and groom” in the current statute that has been struck in the proposed statute.  There doesn’t seem to be anything explicit in the old statute preventing marriage between two people of the same sex but I think the fact that in other states, at least, there have been court decisions that have determined under similar statutes it has been determined that legislative intent and the “plain meaning” of the word marriage should be interpreted as limiting the right to heterosexual couples.  

    It’s a marriage equality law.  I don’t know why the Journal keeps calling it a “same sex” marriage law, except for the fact that surveys have shown people are more receptive to the expression “marriage equality” than they are to “same sex”.  Others may not see it but the question is more than a matter of semantics.

    A question I have that no one seems to mention is what about the gendered wording of quit claim deeds.  Quit  claim deeds have to be written in a gendered manner with a husband and wife to keep exchanges through inheritance from going through probate and being taxed.  How is that resolved when both parties are the same sex? 

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  3. DogDiesel

    As someone that is totally ambivalent to this issue and absolutely annoyed that it takes center stage over our economy, maybe if it doesn’t make it out of committee again, instead of lining the pockets of politicians, advocates should put their money toward a legal challenge.

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  4. leftyrite

    Read Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree.

    Solomon was one of thousands of kids who suffered every day of his school life because others were unprepared to handle his individual differences, one being the fact that he was profoundly dyslexic and the other being that he was quite identifiably “effeminate” in his ways.

    For the sin of being born, his young life was made into a living hell.

    His mother, however, refused to knuckle under. Painstakingly, and largely without help, she drilled him in phonetics and in letter decoding until he had an opportunity to gain what ultimately became great fluency on his own. School was, and remained, another matter. 

    Far From the Tree is a collection of elegant essays about people who are not terribly much like their parents. It contains sections that deal with schizophrenia, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, transgenderism, and deafness, as well as chapters on children of rape, children who are perceived as career criminals, and even children of prodigious talent, who usually have developmental challenges of their own. Solomon’s own homosexual identity is consciously woven into the narrative, and, as he states, is the prime source of his ability to empathize.

    The book is remarkably comprehensive, articulate, and wise.

    But, it was perhaps Solomon’s story of his many meetings with the parents of Dylan Kleybold, one of the Columbine murderers, that shook me the most.

    Many people know what Dylan and Eric Harris did on that fateful day. Do they also know that they were methodically worked on and worked over on a daily basis by their “normal” peers. Or, that some so-called elite kids had set fire to Dylan’s hair in the corridors of Columbine only weeks before?

    Do most people know that Dylan’s dad and mom are remarkable people, who suffer today and every day over something over which they were as powerless as we were over Newtown?

    Dear Reader, before you label me soft on unconscionable crime, consider this: We presently have an empathy deficit in this country. We have become an impatient, highly stressed environment of gun wielders and name callers. We are governed by high rhetoric and low instincts.

    Consider the people whom we render invisible every day. Do you actually think that they disappear?

    Their civil rights, the rights that allow them equal partnership in our society, should be honored by the rest of us to the greatest extent that our compassion will comprehend and our sense of justice will encode in law.

    How, then, can anyone, particularly someone who aspires to anything called holiness, put the rights of human beings who cannot be other than they are to a vote?

    Pontius Pilate did that to Jesus.  And group-man, mob-man got it exactly wrong–as he always does.

    Your soul truth, your conscience, should inform your political truth and your moral and ethical truths. 

    When it does, and I have confidence that it might, things will start to turn around.

    In the meantime, bear witness.


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    1. Nancy Green

      I can’t hold parents who allow their sons to acquire an arsenal blameless.

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  5. Nancy Green

    When the Supreme Court struck down all laws against interracial marriage in 1967, the majority opposed such marriages and this right would never have been won by a popular vote. Bishop Tobin enjoys the power of a large Catholic voting block here in RI, he’s a long way from the days when Catholics were a minority that depended on equality under the law to practice their religion.

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  6. cailin rua

    Vestiges of anti-Catholic sentiment still remain.  Usually, the sentiment expressed is so subtle it can be hard to recognize.  But, and this is a big “but”, this state was founded during a time when religious non-conformity was suppressed and the greatest threat to religious liberty had been the Catholic Church, for some time.  Tobin has declared that the U S Constitution does not actually provide a wall of separation between church and state.  In the context of U S and European history, that is a very threatening statement.  It is made even more serious given the fact that a vice president and director of the Thomas More Law Center is the chosen legal counsel of the state’s bully pulpit, the Projo, for first amendment issues.  Roger Williams is spinning like a lathe in his grave!

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