"As the debate about same-sex marriage continues in Rhode Island and in Washington, I have taken time to reflect carefully on my own position. Based on my own experiences and my firm belief that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, I am now convinced that affording full marriage equality rights to same-sex couples is the only fair and responsible approach for both Rhode Island and the nation. If our nation expects to provide equal protection to all, then our civic institutions must reflect that noble goal." -U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island)
With those words appearing in Saturday's edition of The Providence Journal - Rhode Island's highest-circulation newspaper, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin made it very clear that he now fully supports marriage equality in his home state and the nation.
The blogosphere was quickly abuzz Saturday morning as Journal readers first learned that Langevin's position has changed. His remarks above even earned him the "Quote of the Day" from popular blogger Joe Jervis (of Joe. My. God.).
A devout Catholic who previously supported civil unions, Langevin wrote in the Journal that his position on marriage equality changed after attending the commitment ceremony of a longtime staff member and his partner of nine years. He wrote in the Journal:
"Before their friends and family, they professed their love, commitment and respect for each other. Their sentiments were just as moving, heartfelt and sincere as any of the vows I had heard at other weddings, yet I realized that their union would not be treated the same under the law. That difference struck me as fundamentally unjust, and I began to challenge the wisdom of creating separate categories of rights for certain groups of citizens. I began to see that civil unions fell short of the equality I believed that same-sex couples deserved."
That commitment ceremony took place three years ago, and since then, Langevin says that he has taken the time to reflect carefully on his position.
This is not the first time Langevin has been vocal about his support of LGBT equality. In previous years, he has opposed discrimination based on sexual orientation at both the state and federal level. He has co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and hate crimes legislation. He also supported efforts to repeal the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
Langevin's op-ed in Saturday's edition of The Providence Journal is very much worthwhile reading in its entirety. To do so, please click here.
Langevin concluded his op-ed by urging Rhode Island lawmakers to make 2011 the year that marriage equality becomes a reality in the state.
"As the General Assembly considers this important topic, I ask lawmakers and all Rhode Islanders to honor our state's founding principles of tolerance and freedom and to support marriage equality in our state. It's time to do the right thing."
“Today is another clear indication that the marriage equality initiative in Rhode Island continues to build momentum. On behalf of MERI, I want to thank Congressman Langevin for exhibiting the courage and reason to allow his position to evolve on this critically important issue which has adversely affected thousands of Rhode Islanders for far too long,” said Martha Holt, MERI board member.
GLAAD also thanks Rep. Langevin for publicly supporting the passage of marriage equality legislation in Rhode Island. To our readers, we also underscore the importance of sharing your lives and stories with friends, family and colleagues. As Rep. Langevin demonstrates in his op-ed, it's sharing our lives that often makes all the difference when it comes to changing hearts and minds.
In November 2010, GLAAD was on the ground in Providence to train couples, along with MERI staff and volunteers, on how to share their stories of love and commitment with the media. We will continue to be supportive of MERI until the day when marriage equality becomes a reality in Rhode Island.