The good news: Pro-marriage equality candidates Andy Staton, Marie Mayor, and Adam Satchell, each won their Democratic primary race for State Senate and David Cicilline won with 60.8% of the vote against main challenger Anthony Gemma for the Democratic slot for US House of Representatives.
Adam Satchell unseated a gay marriage opponent, Sen. Michael Pinga. Satchell said some voters ask him about his stance on marriage, but more ask him about jobs and helping the local economy.
“It's crazy to me that they (same sex couples) aren't entitled to the same rights that I am,” he said.
Satchell's opponent, Sen. Michael Pinga, said he didn’t think gay marriage is a major issue in the minds of his constituents, saying “I believe one man-one woman...But I've knocked on hundreds of doors and no one has asked me.”
The bad news: Pro-marriage equality candidates Mitch Crane (Insurance Commissioner) and David Gorman, Gene Dyszlewski, Laura Pisaturo, Lewis Pryeor, and Robert DaSilva (State Senate) lost.
When Laura Pisaturo knocked on doors, she talked about the economy and jobs. The Rhode Island Senate candidate is gay and wants the state to join most of New England in recognizing same-sex marriage. But she doesn't talk about it that much on the campaign trail.
“Top on everyone's minds is jobs and the economy,” said Pisaturo, a former state prosecutor failed in her effort to unseat Sen. Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, in Tuesday's Democratic primary. McCaffrey opposes gay marriage. Last year the General Assembly approved civil unions for same-sex couples that guarantee the same state rights and benefits as marriage. The response has been lukewarm: Just 68 couples have sought civil union licenses in the first year since they were first available.
McCaffrey said he supported civil unions but remains opposed to gay marriage. But he said he's more focused in telling voters about what lawmakers have done to rein in pension costs, increase education funding and streamline business regulations.
The election could have altered the makeup of the General Assembly, with pro-marriage equality candidates moving forward. But all in all it was a disappointing result.
Fight Back RI Campaign Director Ray Sullivan released the following statemenregarding the results of Tuesday’s primary results:
“The gains equality supporters achieved in this election are nothing less than remarkable.
What began as a small but passionate effort nearly 10 years ago to win the freedom to marry, has burgeoned into an effective political force that today is advancing and protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ Rhode Islanders and their families.
We are extremely grateful to the candidates who sought and accepted the pro-equality endorsement and proudly stood up for equality throughout their campaigns. As no candidate ever stands alone, it’s important to recognize the hundreds of pro-equality volunteers who knocked on thousands of doors and made countless phone calls into districts all across the state. Together, we made a tangible impact.
Now, with the momentum of these important gains in both the House and Senate, and the support of a growing majority of Rhode Islanders, we begin our General Election effort, knowing each day brings us one step closer to winning equal rights for all Rhode Islanders.”
The marriage question is almost certain to come up in Rhode Island when state lawmakers convene in January. House Speaker Gordon Fox has vowed that if he retains his post, he will call for a House vote on gay marriage early in the new year. Fox, who is openly gay, dropped gay marriage legislation last year after it became apparent it wouldn't pass the Senate, where President Teresa Paiva Weed is a notable opponent. This year, he said, he'll “work his backside off” to advance the issue.
“We are in a New England state and you can easily go across the state line to get married,” Fox said. “I want to have my marriage in the state of Rhode Island.”