Rhode Island

Final vote, signing ceremony planned for R.I. marriage bill on Thursday

Rhode Island state capitol in Providence.Source

Rhode Island state capitol in Providence.Source

Update: The bill was approved and signed into law on May 2.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island is joining nine other states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee plans to sign a marriage equality bill into law Thursday evening following a final procedural vote in the state’s General Assembly.

Rhode Island state capitol in Providence.Source

Hundreds are expected to gather at the Statehouse to celebrate the new law, which has already passed the House and Senate once.

The other five New England states already have gay marriage, but bills that would have changed marriage laws in heavily Catholic Rhode sputtered for nearly 20 years until this year. More gay marriage supporters were elected to the legislature last fall, and advocates mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to pressure undecided lawmakers.

The first weddings could occur Aug. 1, when the new law takes effect.

The vote is scheduled for 5 p.m. EDT, and Chafee is scheduled to sign the bill at 6 p.m.

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