Gay marriage bills were introduced
Thursday in the Rhode Island House and Senate.
Democratic Rep. Art Handy of Cranston
introduced his bill in the House on Thursday afternoon. Senator
Donna Nesselbush, an openly gay Democrat from Pawtucket, introduced
her version moments later.
Handy's bill includes more than enough
co-sponsors to assure passage in the House. In the Senate, which is
led by President Teresa Paiva Weed, an opponent of marriage equality,
support is not quite as robust. Nesselbush's measure has 11 sponsors
in the 38-member Senate.
Rhode Island remains the only New
England state without marriage equality, despite large Democratic
majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. (Under an
executive order signed by Governor Lincoln Chafee, the state
recognizes the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed
House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly
gay, has pledged to hold a vote on the bill before the end of the
month. Senate President Weed has said she expects that the Senate
Judiciary Committee will take up the issue if the legislation passes
Handy told the Cranston
Patch that marriage equality was “long overdue” in Rhode
“We are long overdue,” he said.
“Rhode Island, the colony founded on the principle of personal
liberty, is now the only New England sate that doesn't allow
same-gender couples equal marriage. Rhode Islanders recognize that
same-gender couples deserve the rights and responsibilities that
other couples already enjoy, and support has been getting wider every
Nesselbush said the issue was
“After many years, I have finally
found the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, the woman I
want to marry,” she said. “We are deeply in love, and are hoping
and praying for marriage equality so we can tie the knot.”