A Rhode Island House committee has for
the first time approved a gay marriage bill.
The House Judiciary Committee on
Tuesday unanimously approved Democratic Representative Arthur Handy's
bill which seeks to make Rhode Island the 10th state in
the nation to legalize such unions. The full House is expected to
take up the issue on Thursday.
“Today is the furthest a marriage
bill has ever advanced in Rhode Island,” tweeted the group Rhode
Islanders United for Marriage, which supports the measure.
In 2001, the House Judiciary Committee
heard a similar bill but decided against passage.
The committee vote follows a hearing on
the issue which attracted hundreds to the State House. More than 300
people signed up, but many did not speak.
Outside the hearing, opponents chanted
“Let the people vote” and prayed under the State House dome.
testify before Rhode Island House panel considering gay marriage
Rhode Island is the only New England
state which does not allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Two
years ago, lawmakers approved civil unions for gay couples.
While passage in the House looks bright
and Governor Lincoln Chafee has endorsed the effort, doubts remain in
the Senate, where Democratic leaders remain opposed.