I just got out of the hearing room. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is about to speak (we should have tapes of both available later on).
The hallways are jammed with people from both sides. The argument that marriage, if it is to be redefined, clearly is resonating. The people of Rhode Island want to be heard.
The representatives appear to be really struggling. They are clearly getting a massive number of phone calls. Rep. Lima is looking for some way to satisfy both sides by putting gay marriage in a separate section of the bill. She also is concerned with what happens in say, Providence College's married housing.
She almost got the pro-gay marriage lawyers to say they'd agree to protect Providence College's right to reserve married housing to opposite-sex couples. The lawyer said the issue had not been litigated--and then backtracked and says that shows conscience protection is not needed. Both in Maryland and Rhode Island the gay marriage folks appear resolutely set against adding conscience protections, on the grounds that they say it's not necessary.
If gay marriage will not impact religious liberty, why not codify that with conscience protections? Why oppose them? Saying you don't want to "clutter" the bill with "caveats" is not very persuasive.
Two young people testified for gay marriage, and now two young people are testifying against gay marriage. Waiting for Dr. Morse to speak...