Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox has said he will call a vote next year on a bill which would legalize gay marriage in the state.

“I'm calling the vote,” Fox, an openly gay Democrat, said Friday during taping of WPRI's Newsmakers. The program is scheduled to air on Sunday.

It's one of those issues that I need to come back, we need to address, and I intend if I'm elected speaker to address it early.”

It's one of the main reasons I'm coming back. There's unfinished business.”

The General Assembly ended its 2012 session without taking up debate on bills related to gay marriage. One such bill sought to legalize marriage equality.

Fox has come under heavy criticism from gay marriage advocates for abandoning efforts last year to approve a marriage equality bill in favor of civil unions. Fox explained at the time that the marriage bill was doomed in the Senate because President Teresa Paiva Weed and other top Democrats remained opposed.

(Related: Cee Lo Green parody knocks Gordon Fox for reversing on gay marriage.)

Governor Lincoln Chafee signed civil unions into law but added that he supports equal marriage rights for gay couples.

I never believed civil unions was a replacement for full marriage equality,” Fox said on the program.

He added that he is prepared to call the vote because “we have the backstop [of civil unions] now.”