Rhode Island state Rep. Arthur Handy is expected to introduce a gay marriage bill in the House on Thursday.

Speaking to WPRI, House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly gay and was re-elected on Tuesday to lead the chamber, said he's committed to holding a vote on the bill before the end of the month.

“Marriage equality, it's going to be an important issue,” he said. “[It] won't stand alone, but I want to do it early, send it over to the Senate. I do believe I do have the votes to pass marriage equality in the House of Representatives, so that's a priority.”

Despite large Democratic majorities in the General Assembly, Rhode Island remains the only New England state without marriage equality. (However, under an executive order signed by Governor Lincoln Chafee, the state recognizes the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed elsewhere.)

Fox came under heavy criticism from gay marriage advocates for abandoning efforts in 2011 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 Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and other top Democrats in the chamber remained opposed.

Weed has said she anticipates the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the issue if the legislation passes the House.