Rhode Island’s House, led by Representative Gordon D. Fox, a Democrat and the country’s first openly gay House speaker, first passed a same-sex marriage measure by 51 to 19 in January. On April 24, the Senate approved a modified version by 26 to 12 that expanded protections for religious organizations. That change prompted today’s vote, which was largely procedural. It passed, 56 to 15.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Thursday signed a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the Ocean State.
“Today we are making history,” he said. “We are living up to the ideals of our founders.”
Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Campaign Director Ray Sullivan, gay House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence) and other same-sex marriage supporters joined Chafee on the steps of the State House in Providence as he signed the measure into law.
Rhode Island will become the tenth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality when the law takes effect on August 1. All of New England, the Cradle of Liberty, is now a solid mass of equalityness. Interesting to note that four legislators took a last-minute opportunity to go from opposition to support in what was otherwise a procedural vote.
Marriage equality bills are also working their way through the state legislatures in Delaware, Illinois and Minnesota. Meanwhile, NOM’s Brian Brown remains in denial:
“I don’t know that I would say Rhode Island is a trend.”