Rhode Island state Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Democrat) said Monday that, despite her opposition to same-sex marriage, she expects the issue will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the upcoming legislative session if the House advances a bill.
House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), who is openly gay, has said he intends to call an early vote on legalizing same-sex marriage and that passing it is one of his top priorities, reported Associated Press.
In an interview last month, Fox cited gains in the state’s General Assembly and gay marriage victories in Maine, Maryland and Washington state as evidence of growing public support for marriage equality.
“This election shows there’s been a real change on this issue,” he said. “I’m hopeful. There’s definitely a trend here. There’s a wave, and we should ride it.”
The Rhode Island House did not vote on a marriage equality bill last year after it became clear legislation wouldn’t pass the Senate due to strong opposition from Paiva Weed.
Both chambers instead passed a civil union law that Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed into law. Under an executive order signed by Chafee in May, the state recognizes the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed elsewhere.
Same-sex marriage is legal, or will be soon, in nine states — Maine, Maryland, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — and in the District of Columbia.