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Same-sex marriage takes center stage in Rhode Island state House

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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Same-sex marriage takes center stage in the Rhode Island state legislature on Tuesday as the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review a proposed marriage equality bill.

The committee is expected to hear several hours of testimony this evening from gay marriage supporters and opponents.

Rhode Island State Capitol
Photo: Garrett A. Wollman, via Wikimedia

Supporters of the bill, which includes Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) say same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue and want to see the state join the rest of New England in allowing same-sex couples to wed.

Rhode Island state lawmakers formally introduced bills in the state House and Senate on Jan. 3 to legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples, setting the stage for Rhode Island to become the tenth state to where same-sex marriage is legal.

State Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston, R.I.), the bill’s sponsor in the House, said that he’s confident the marriage bill will pass this time around. More than 40 members of the 75-member House have signed on as co-sponsors.

The House is expected to vote on the bill by month’s end.

In the Senate, the measure was introduced by Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket); the Senate version has 11 sponsors in the 38-member Senate.

House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), who is also openly gay, said he wanted a vote on the measure by Jan. 31.

In 2011, Fox dropped marriage legislation when it became apparent the Senate wouldn’t pass the bill. Instead, lawmakers approved civil unions for same-sex couples that offer many of the legal rights afforded to married couples.

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