A Rhode Island House panel considering a bill seeking to legalize gay marriage in the state heard testimony from hundreds of people on Tuesday.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said in written testimony that the supports marriage equality because it would “extend important social recognition and legal protections to all Rhode Island families and children” while preserving “the right of religious institutions to determine who they may marry within their faiths.”

“At its core, the Marriage Equality Act is a matter of fairness,” he said.

Other prominent state politicians who spoke in favor of the bill included state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Rep. Arthur Handy – the bill's Democratic sponsor – and openly gay Rep. Frank Ferri.

An estimated 300 people signed up, but many did not speak.

According to the Providence Journal, Dorris Adiyi said calling such unions a civil right was a “huge disgrace” to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and persons of color.

Other opponents described sexuality as a “learned behavior,” suggesting that gay and lesbian people have the power to change their sexual orientation.

Also testifying was Matthew Lannon, a sixth grader who told lawmakers that he has two dads and two moms.

“Let me tell you about my parents,” he said. “I have two moms and two dads, and an older sister. If you came to our house, you would feel the love that we all have for one another. … Having gay marriage won't change our family, it will change the way that the state, and other people see our family; as normal just like everyone else.”

A large crowd of roughly 200 opponents chanted “Let the people vote” and prayed under the State House dome. (Video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

House Speaker Gordon Fox has said he would like to call a vote on the bill before the end of the month.