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.