Marriage-equality supporters owe some thanks today to Rhode Island Republicans and the state’s anti-equality Senate president, Democrat Teresa M. Paiva-Weed.
All five of Rhode Island’s Senate Republicans joined moderate and liberal Senate Democrats in supporting the state’s marriage-equality bill, which passed 26-12. The five GOP votes for equality helped to offset a dozen antigay Democratic votes, including that of the Senate president.
The GOP votes provided a bit of additional political cover to the Senate president, a Democrat who has long opposed marriage equality — but who nevertheless promised to allow a full vote if marriage-equality legislation passed out of committee.
The bill now returns to the state’s House of Representatives for approval, which is all but certain. The Rhode Island Republicans became – as The Washington Blade points out – the first full caucus of either major political party of any U.S. state to endorse civil marriage equality.
In a state as small as Rhode Island, achieving consensus among a handful of politicians shouldn’t be too difficult — which makes it all the more surprising that the state’s Democrats couldn’t come close to achieving the same unanimity in favor of social progress.