By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
PROVIDENCE, RI–State Representative Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) has been a staunch supporter of LGBT rights in the eight years he has been a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.
Handy, 43, was elected in 2002 and has served on the House Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare and serves as the Chairperson of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
On November 2, Handy faces a re-election challenge from Republican rival Richard Nordlund. In a year where Incumbents are especially vulnerable due to voter anger, Handy remains vigilant.
“I’m taking my election seriously,” Handy said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted.”
Handy grew up in Richmond, Virginia and came to the Ocean State in 1990 to attend the University of Rhode Island. The state’s small size is something he appreciates, noting the close bonds he has formed with people.
“(Long before I was elected) I could go to the supermarket and I’d run into people,” Handy recalled. “I could go wherever and I’d run into people I knew. I don’t remember that happening in other places I’ve been over the years. I feel like at least I can find people that have similar values to me.”
Handy is employed by a company called Left Brain, a web and database company that specializes in work for non profits and small businesses. Prior to that, Handy had been involved primarily in the non profit sector.
From 2000-2001, Handy worked for the environmental group Clean Water Action and also with progressive group Ocean State Action. He volunteered for a few political campaigns along the way and in the process caught the political bug.
Handy remembered being unhappy with the performance of his State Rep. at the time.
“I guess that’s part of what drove me (to run), it was a little bit ‘I can be better than him,’” Handy said.
Handy takes pride in being able to build a coalition of legislators in the General Assembly to form a progressive caucus. He is also proud of the success he has had in getting environmental legislation passed.
Handy believes when political incumbents have opponents, it’s healthy for democracy. He encourages others to be a part of the political process.
“I think it’s important for people to run for office. I think it’s important for people to be involved,” Handy said.
Handy has been a co-sponsor of same-sex marriage legislation and notes that support for marriage equality has continued to grow.
“When I (campaign), I get people who ask me about the issue now and ask me about it in a positive way,” said Handy. “I have nobody this time around who says ‘I’m opposed to (gay marriage), do you oppose it?’ And they didn’t know I was a sponsor.”
With the departure of anti-gay Governor Don Carcieri (R), a major opponent of same-sex marriage, and the likelihood of having a pro-gay Governor who supports it, Handy is optimistic that a marriage bill will be passed by the General Assembly and signed into law.