Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

Legislating Same-Sex Marriage: All Eyes on Rhode Island

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

MacMillan Hall, Room 117 (Starr Auditorium)

Will Rhode Island become the tenth state to pass a law permitting same-sex marriage? The Brown Daily Herald and the Taubman Center for Public Policy bring together experts to discuss the social and political landscape around same-sex marriage, both nationally and here in Rhode Island. Plus, we’ll hear from advocates on both sides of the debate.


Robert O. Self is a professor of history at Brown University. He is the author of two books, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, 2003), and All in the Family: The Realignment of American DemocracySince the 1960s (Hill and Wang, 2013), and is a student of American politics and political cultures.

Courtney Cahill is a professor of law at Florida State University, College of Law. She teaches constitutional law, family law, and sexuality and the law. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of family law and constitutional law, with a particular focus on marriage equality and reproductive rights. She received her JD from Yale Law School, her PhD from Princeton University and her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Celia Wolf-Devine is the co-author of the anthology Sex and Gender: A Spectrum of Views. She taught a course on the philosophy of sex and gender at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts for fifteen years before retiring in 2007. She holds a B.A. from Smith College and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Janson Wu is staff attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. He was instrumental in getting marriage equality passed by the New Hampshire legislature and 2010, and recently testified at the Rhode Island Senate hearings regarding the marriage equality bills being considered in that state. Wu earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard University.

Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P. is a Catholic priest and a friar in the Order of Preachers. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College. He holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, and has spoken frequently around the state on the issues of marriage and sexuality. Father Petri sits on the panel as the representative of Most Reverend Thomas Tobin, the Catholic Bishop of Providence.

Associate Rabbi Sarah Mack has served Temple Beth-El since 2003, upon her ordination from the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Rabbi Mack also spent a year studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. She graduated from Brandeis University in 1996 with degrees in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and English.