As the Rhode Island legislature deliberates over the marriage equality bill, Paul Agresti of Rumford poses a cogent question in a letter to the editor of Providence Journal:

Governor Chafee (“Gay marriage key to flourishing R.I. economy,” Commentary, March 3) thinks that the legalization of same-sex marriage will be a big boost to Rhode Island’s economy.

I would like to ask the governor a question: How did the acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle work out for the economy of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

This is a great question, because we don’t want to bring destruction upon the land.

I can’t speak to Biblical events, but I can provide a live report from Massachusetts, the first state to recognize that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.

Here in Massachusetts, I have not seen any “dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace”, as reportedly happened in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Nor have I noticed any pillars of salt.  The vegetation in the land has gone dormant for winter, but it has not been destroyed.

What I do see is people going about their normal daily lives.  Rhode Islanders and others unable to travel to Massachusetts may wish to view these real-time Massachusetts webcams as a way of verifying my observations.

Same-sex couples started marrying in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, so one would think that there has been plenty of time for death and destruction to have rained down upon the land if, in fact, the advent of marriage equality was going to precipitate it.

Additionally, as far as I am aware, there are no reports of fiery destruction of our nation’s capitol, the 11 countries, 2 Native American tribal nations or the 8 other U.S. states that allow same-sex couples to marry.

Based on my personal observations, I believe that Mr. Agresti may lay down his concern that Rhode Island will become one of “Sodom’s suburbs” and be obliterated.  The evidence on the ground, from next-door Massachusetts to points across the globe, indicate a peaceful outcome for his state.

The Rhode Island state House passed the marriage bill (H 5015) in late January on a vote of 51 to 19.  The bill currently awaits action in the state Senate.

Note: The title of this letter to the editor was “Paul Agresti: Welcome, Rhode Island, to Sodom’s suburbs” in the print version of the paper.  The title was changed to “Paul Agresti: Limited future” in the digital version.