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Different gay marriage paths for Rhode Island, New York

Posted in: State of the States   Current Affairs
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We’re getting close to allowing same sex marriage throughout the country -- or banning it altogether -- depending on who you ask.

Last week New York passed a bill allowing gay marriage, joining five other states.  A key part of the political coalition that allowed for passage in a Republican controlled Senate was the support of powerful libertarians who framed the issue as one of personal freedom. The movement was also helped by strong leadership from Governor Cuomo, who personally lobbied legislators and corralled competing advocacy groups he said were disorganized in 2009, the last time New York tried for same sex marriage.

But last night the Rhode Island Senate passed civil union legislation as an unpopular compromise after a failed bid earlier in the year to bring gay marriage to the Ocean State. The climate this year seemed ripe for a gay marriage push: A moderate governor who supports gay marriage, an openly gay speaker of the House, and polls showing a majority of Rhode Islanders favored of the idea. And yet in late April Speaker Gordon Fox announced that he wouldn’t bring the measure to the floor because he didn’t have enough votes for passage.

In Rhode Island, the reasons for the collapse mirrored those of New York in 2009:  Efforts suffered from infighting among advocacy groups and lobbying from the influential Catholic church. The movement also lacked the hands-on leadership from the governor’s office that was seen in New York this year, and ultimately without a strong “yes” vote from the Rhode Island House, Senate passage under a Senate President who opposes gay marriage was unlikely.

Still, some are hailing the passage of civil unions as a step forward that wouldn’t have happened 10 or 15 years ago, leaving advocates with hope that it's only a matter of time.

                                                                                                                                           --CHRISTINA PRIGNANO   

BEACON HILL

Radio Boston hosts a discussion about ticket resales and proposed legislation that would eliminate a cap on markups. Participants included state Rep. Michael Moran, who filed the legislation, a spokesman for StubHub, and Bruce Mohl, editor of CommonWealth magazine.

A mother dies in a Fall River pool and no one notices her body for days, NECN reports. The Department of Conservation and Recreation closes a total of 30 pools statewide as it investigates.

The Cape Cod Times decries the secrecy surrounding casino gambling negotiations between Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

The Globe reports that the official at the center of an investigation into possible misuse of special education funding at a Merrimack Valley Education Collaborative has taken an unpaid leave from an affiliated nonprofit that is also part of the unfolding story.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Lowell Sun editorial examines ethical issues behind a vote by the Tyngsboro Board of Selectmen to grant a year-round liquor license to the local Sportsmen’s Club. What made the vote interesting is that the club wanted a license that would allow it to sell liquor a few times a year, but the board, many of whom are members of the club, unilaterally expanded the request.

After Bourne voters decided to eliminate funding for lifeguards at town beaches, a petition drive forces town officials to schedule a special vote on reinstating them.

Setti Warren, the Newton mayor and candidate for US Senate, decides not to pursue an override next year.

Residents of Boston’s Dudley Square talk about their hopes for the renaissance of the area.

The Brockton Enterprise blasts Superintendent Matthew Malone for allegedly failing to meet residency requirements in his contract.

TORNADO AFTERMATH

Springfield closes its shelter for tornado victims.

WHITEY BULGER

Whitey Bulger’s lawyer says the government’s move to drop one set of charges against him to focus on the murders he accused of committing is a judge-shopping effort to get the case out of the courtroom of Judge Mark Wolf, who has been harshly critical of the FBI’s history in the case.

Radio Boston explores why the most-wanted pictures of Whitey Bulger looked little like the real man on the run.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy prepared to lay off 6,500 state workers after state employee unions failed to endorse a package of concessions, NECN reports.

In an op-ed in the Eagle-Tribune, Portsmouth Mayor Tom Ferrini decries the New Hampshire legislature’s decision to slash funding for health care and state colleges while cutting the already low tax on cigarettes by 10 cents.

Some experts are worried about a new loophole in campaign finance laws if the FEC allows Stephen Colbert and Viacom to go ahead with their funding scheme for “Colbert’s Super PAC.”

ELECTION 2012

Karl Rove says Barack Obama could repeat Harry Truman’s feat - being unpopular and in the teeth of a recession, and getting reelected nonetheless.

Christopher Hitchens is not such a fan of Michele Bachmann.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Two private equity firms pull off $2.8 billion deal to take BJ’s Wholesale Club private, NECN reports.

EDUCATION

Should tenure be abolished? Time asks.

A Boston Herald editorial says there’s less to the newly unveiled teacher evaluation regime than meets the eye.  Universal Hub links to the release put out by a Boston organization that pushed successfully for parent and student input in teacher evaluations under the new regs.

HEALTH CARE

A cluster of cancer cases among Transportation Security Agency agents in Boston raises concerns about the safety of airport scanners, Time reports.

Two consumer groups are calling for a one-year freeze on health insurance premiums in the state.

Children’s Hospital in Boston is planning a clinical trial of drug that shows some promise against the rare premature aging disorder called progeria.

The first of many, many appeals of lawsuits challenging national health care reform goes to the Obama administration.

The Patriot Ledger covers this week’s hearings on increasing health care costs. Here’s CommonWealth’s report.

TRANSPORTATION

Jack Spillane blasts the head of the Westport Highway Department for running a “good old boys operation” and laments the apparent lack of interest of the town in investigating his activities.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The president of National Grid defends the company’s support for Cape Wind.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Globe reports that there is little hard evidence tying motorized minibikes to crime.  Boston is moving to clamp down on the bikes following the shooting of a 4-year-old boy in a Dorchester park where the bikes are a constant presence -- and annoyance.  Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham says the minibike campaign and outrage following the shooting are part of the predictable pattern of fleeting outrage that follows the most heinous incidents of urban violence, and she laments the fact that there is so little commitment to tackling the root causes of the problems.

MEDIA

The Boston Phoenix Muzzle Awards are out.



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