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BREAKING: Rhode Island senate committee advances gay marriage bill

BREAKING: Rhode Island senate committee advances gay marriage bill

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island state Senate committee on Tuesday voted to advance a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure by a vote of 7-4 moments ago, sending the bill to the full Senate, which could take up the measure as early as Wednesday. The House passed the bill in January.

The committee also voted 5-6 not to put forward a proposal by Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence), which sought to place a marriage referendum on the 2014 ballot.

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The Senate has long been seen as the true test for gay marriage in Rhode Island, now the only state in New England without gay marriage.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent and supporter of same-sex marriage, has promised to sign the bill if passed by the legislature.

Earlier on Tuesday, all five members of the Rhode Island Senate Republican Caucus announced their support for the bill, becoming the first unanimous legislative caucus in the nation — of either party — to support marriage equality.

Rhode Island is one of four states that could legalize same-sex marriage this year — the others are Delaware, Minnesota and Illinois.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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