Supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are out to transform the composition of the state Senate before next year's planned vote on legislation legalizing such unions.

The group Fight Back RI is targeting a “small cadre of legislators” it believes are holding back passage of a gay marriage bill.

“I think pro-equality candidates are going to have a significant impact on the 2012 elections and fundamentally change the composition of the state Senate come 2013,” Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Fight Back RI, told

The Rhode Island General Assembly in 2011 approved and Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a civil unions law. House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly gay, came under heavy criticism from advocates for abandoning a marriage equality bill in favor of civil unions. Fox explained that the marriage bill was doomed in the Senate because President Teresa Paiva-Weed and other top Democrats remained opposed. Lawmakers ended this year's session without debating marriage equality.

Fox recently announced he would call a vote next year on a gay marriage bill.

Fight Back RI's short list includes Senate Judiciary Chair Michael McCaffrey, who has publicly opposed marriage equality.

The group is supporting McCaffrey's Democratic primary rival Laura Pisaturo. Pisaturo has yet to publicly announce she is a marriage equality supporter but as a trial attorney she has worked on legal issues affecting LGBT people.

Democrat Paiva-Weed, who ultimately will decide whether the legislation moves forward in the Senate, is expected to win re-election in the fall, but backers are hoping to influence her decision with the ouster of a few anti-gay marriage senators.