BY AARON HICKLIN
Photography by Mike McGregor
Though an unearthed scandal forced him to (temporarily) drop out of the race, openly gay David Norris has officially put his name on the ballot in Ireland’s upcoming presidential race.
He’s an independent candidate without the support of any major party, which will make it tough for Norris to get endorsements from members of Ireland’s parliament. But he’s consistently topped the polls, even after quitting the race.
If Norris wins, he’ll be the first openly gay man to be president of any country in the world. The election is October 27. Readers in Ireland, get out the vote. Spread the word. Let’s make this happen.
For the past 13 years, annual legislative efforts to pass a marriage equality bill in the General Assembly have met with opposition from Rhode Island’s heavily Roman Catholic population — and by the eight-year term of a governor opposed to gay marriage.
Following the recent gubernatorial election of self-proclaimed gay-rights champion Lincoln Chafee ‘75 P’14, the 2011 political stage is finally set for the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Rhode Island.
Rhoda Perry P’91 — a Democratic member of the Rhode Island Senate and the sponsor of several failed marriage equality bills — said that after more than 10 years of advocacy, she plans to act quickly and decisively to collaborate with the new governor on the issue.
While Perry acknowledged that the positions of some of the newest members of the legislature remain somewhat unclear, she expressed confidence that Rhode Island would soon join its New England neighbors as a state that both recognizes and performs same-sex marriage.
"We are very serious, we are tenacious and we feel that we’ll be victorious," she said.
Although Rhode Island is the most Catholic state in the union — at 45 percent of its population — Perry expressed little concern that one religious lobby would impede the passage of the bill.
"This state is also a state of independent-minded people," she said. "Many legislators feel that it is their job to represent all of Rhode Island — and all religions."
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Gay activists are going Green, going Republican, and in some cases not planning on going to the polls this year at all.
Democratic candidates are likely counting on support from gay voters to help avoid big losses on November second. But according to an Associated Press article, LGBT voters in Obama’s hometown of Chicago offer “a snapshot of what some are calling the ‘enthusiasm gap’ between voters who came out strong for Obama and other Democrats in 2008 and re-energized Republican base voters, including tea party enthusiasts who say they are primed to storm the polls.”
Activists cite anger with Obama over his handling of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Obama’s Justice Department is defending the policy despite a federal judge’s decision to overturn it.
"Once they’re elected, they’re not fighting for things like civil unions or same-sex marriage or ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ because they’re hot-button issues," said James Wyatt, a 35-year-old who says he usually supports Democrats but won’t vote this year. "We’re just used as a piggyback for them to get into office. It’s absurd."