As Rhode Island held hearings on whether to legalise equal marriage for same-sex couples, hundreds of demonstrators turned out to protest against the potential change at hearings
Three hundred people, both for and against equal marriage, signed up to speak at hearings at Rhode Island’s State House, on Tuesday, and hundreds more gathered outside to protest against proceedings, WRPI reports.
Speakers were limited to two minutes each, and this video shows a range of opinions expressed.
The video, posted by Sam Valorose, shows several speakers, the first of which says she is opposed to equal marriage. She says: “I suggest a consideration of natural order. Living things preserve their existance and procreate based on a fusion of heterosexual union If we deviate from the natural order, we manipulate the purpose of created things, and stifle life.”
Another suggests that resources should not be used to consider equal marriage, and that public representatives had “more pressing” issues to deal with.
Another speaker, saying that civil unions are for same-sex couples, and marriage for mixed-sex couples said “we should leave a thing as what it is”.
The video shows a final speaker, a young boy, who says: “Let me tell you about my parents. I have two moms and two dads, and an older sister. If you came to our house, you would feel the love that we all have for one another. We laugh a lot, we talk about our feelings, we argue, we are real.
“Having gay parents has changed my life for the better. I am more aware, I am more sensitive to differences in the world, I am much more accepting.
“Having gay marriage won’t change our family, it will change the way that the state, and other people see our family; as normal just like everyone else.
“When I’m a grown up I hope we will look back at this time in history and be amazed that people did not let gay and lesbian couples get married.”
The video then cuts to the screaming crowd outside the chamber, which reportedly had drowned out the voices of those speaking inside, at several points during the hearings.
House Speaker Gordon Fox had called for legislation to be put before the House before the end of January. A vote is to be held by the House of Representatives later this month.
During the hearing, on speaker, Josephine O’Connell, 71, said: “I’d like us to get on the right side of history.” she said it “breaks her heart” that her home state is the only one in New England that doesn’t allow equal marriage. “I don’t want to be looking back in 20 years, thinking ‘what were we thinking?’” reports WPRI.
Reverend Bernard Healey, opposed to the consultations, said: “We are here to defend and support the longstanding definition of marriage… as the exclusive and lasting relationship of a man and a woman.” He continued: “Using the law to alter or redefine marriage is an injustice to those who have embraced this way of life.”
Rhode Island has become the latest in a series of US states to address the question of whether to allow equal marriage. It is the last of the “New England” states to do so.
Nine US states have already decided to legalise same-sex marriage, beginning with Maine and Maryland in November of 2012. Illinois has plans to vote on the topic later this year.