The Rhode Island House of Representatives approved gay marriage legislation Thursday night though Barrington’s Representatives are split on the issue.
State Rep. Jan Malik (D-Dist. 67, Warren, Barrington) voted against the proposal. Eighteen other State Reps. joined him.
“Marriage pre-dates government,” Rep. Malik said.
“It should not be re-defined by law.”
Rep. Malik said he supports equal rights for heterosexuals and homosexuals and he doesn’t believe any group should be subject to discrimination.
Rep. Malik said the term marriage, however, applies to a man and woman and it has been that way for a long time.
“I just couldn’t vote for it. It’s not a marriage to me,” Rep. Malik said Friday.
“I don’t think anybody should be discriminated against in this country. They should all have the same rights as we have but I can’t call it a marriage.”
Rep. Malik also said he’s happy the House can now turn its attention to other issues, such as the economy and the potential impact of a proposal in Massachusetts that would lower sales tax by 1.5 percent.
State Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Riverside, Barrington) voted in favor of the proposal alongside 50 other State Reps. Rep. Hearn could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
The matter now heads to the Senate. Sen. David Bates (R-Dist. 32, Riverside, Barrington, Bristol) said he’s told legislators on both sides of the issue he won’t take a position until a bill emerges from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Bates is one co-sponsor of a bill introduced on Tuesday, Jan. 22 that would place the issue of gay marriage before voters versus its current track in the General Assembly. That legislation has also been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Bates said he decided to co-sponsor the legislation for constituents who want to vote on the issue.
Sen. Bates also stressed the importance of addressing other issues facing the state. Sen. Bates said he understands the “emotional attachment” to the issue but the state also has work on economic development and its budget.