Companion same-sex marriage bills were introduced today in both the Rhode Island House and Senate, and their future looks encouraging. The speaker of the House is is openly gay, and the president of the Senate has said she will not oppose the bill, although she does not support marriage equality.
Rhode Island could vie with Illinois to become the tenth state in the nation that has extended marriage to same-sex couples.
“Representative Gordon Fox, an openly gay co-sponsor of the bill, said after being elected House speaker this week that he intended to bring the marriage issue to the House floor before the end of January,” Yahoo News reports:
“It is time,” Fox, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We can no longer be the only New England state without marriage equality. Rhode Island must be next in enacting this basic civil right to marry the one you love.”
On Thursday, the sponsor of the Rhode Island proposal, Democratic Representative Arthur Handy, introduced the measure in a late afternoon session, said Fox’s spokesman, Larry Berman.
“We’ve polled the members in the House and are very optimistic that it will pass comfortably,” he said, adding that a public hearing would be held in the next few weeks.
It remains unclear how it will fare in the Senate, he said.
Teresa Paiva Weed, the state Senate president, opposes gay marriage, but has said she will allow a judiciary committee vote if the bill passed in the House, Senate spokesman Greg Pare said.
“I don’t know what the vote would be in the Senate,” he said. “It would be close.”
Providence, Rhode Island’s local ABC affiliate notes:
Chris Plante, from the National Organization for Marriage said, “We will strongly oppose it. The National Organization for Marriage believes firmly that marriage – between one man and one woman – the fabric of our society, should not be changed.”
Rhode Island’s governor, Lincoln Chafee, has said he would sign same-sex marriage into law previously.
The motto of Rhode Island — which is also known as the Ocean State — is “hope.”
Image by Wapcaplet
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