Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee
says he's eager for Rhode Island to legalize gay marriage.
Last Thursday, Democratic Rep. Art
Handy of Cranston introduced a marriage equality bill in the House.
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.
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
Speaking to the AP, Chafee, who two
years ago signed a civil unions bill into law, said approval could
help improve the state's image and even its economy.
“We want to be inclusive, welcoming
everybody,” said Chafee, an independent. “And in particular [to
the] creative, energetic people that so often are associated with the
Rhode Island became the only New
England state without marriage equality after Maine voters in
November approved a referendum on the issue.