Turkey time

Injustice, deception, and simple boneheadedness: the Phoenix presents its third annual dishonor role
By PROVIDENCE PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is here.

That means time for gustatory excess, drunken fights with relatives, and passing out in front of the television.

But that's just half the fun! It's also time for the Phoenix's third annual turkeys issue, wherein we call out Rhode Islanders for acts most fowl.

And there's plenty to squawk about this time around: injustice, deception, and simple boneheadedness.

So pass the gravy, people, it's time to dig in.


Tobin, the bishop of Providence, is our cover bird. And for good reason.

The same-sex marriage fight was the year's defining moral struggle. And while the bishop was on the wrong side of the issue, that alone doesn't make him our turkey-in-chief.

No, it was his central role in killing the bill that gets him the distinction: Tobin lobbied legislators to great effect; he editorialized on the matter; his priests exerted pressure from the pulpit.

The bishop's task was no small one. The election of Governor Lincoln Chafee, a strong supporter of same-sex nuptials, put the bill front and center. The measure had a key ally in openly gay Speaker of the House Gordon Fox. And polls showed a majority of the public behind the proposal.

It took some big birds, in other words, to beat back the legislation and force a lame civil-unions compromise. And none loomed quite so large as Tobin.



Passage of a same-sex marriage bill on Smith Hill would mean substantial progress for Rhode Island's gays and lesbians.

But the real action, in some ways, is on Capitol Hill. Without a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — the Clinton-era legislation that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman — gays and lesbians will never get access to crucial federal rights.

They won't be able to file joint tax returns. They won't be able to claim Social Security survivor benefits. Marrying a same-sex partner won't mean citizenship for immigrants.

Reed voted for DOMA in 1996 as a member of the House of Representatives. A different time, you say? Perhaps. But there is no excuse for his failure to sign on to a bill, now, that would repeal the legislation.

Indeed, he's the only member of the Rhode Island delegation — including the relatively moderate Representative James Langevin — who has declined to endorse the repeal.

Reed says he's still thinking about it. Sorry, Jack, that's not good enough. Gobble! Gobble!

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  Topics: News Features , Lincoln Chafee, Jack Reed, Gordon Fox,  More more >
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