Recently installed Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely on Friday said he supports an effort to legalize gay marriage in the state.

“The Episcopal Church has been blessed for many years by the life and ministry of gay and lesbian couples, both lay and ordained,” Knisely said in a letter to clergy. “I have seen how they contribute to the common good of a congregation and a community by creating stable, loving homes. As a new citizen of Rhode Island, I am eager to see our state legislature join many others across the country in passing legislation to ensure civil marriage equality.”

The Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, a coalition of more than 140 religious leaders from different faiths, thanked Knisely for his support.

Knisely's “statement endorsing HB5015 – not in spite of his faith in Christ, but because of it – is a powerful and eloquent reminder that, in the end, this debate is about families,” said the Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, the group's chair. “It is about those loving and committed couples, our friends and neighbors, who are denied access to the unique recognition and protection offered by civil marriage.”

After holding a hearing on the marriage bill last week, a House committee is expected Tuesday to vote on it.