Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline on Tuesday applauded a Rhode Island House committee for approving a gay marriage bill and sending it to the full House.

“This important effort has received the support of a growing number of Rhode Islanders from nearly every political background and religious tradition, and I believe it is time our state recognizes the dignity and value of relationships between committed and loving individuals of the same gender by enacting full marriage equality in Rhode Island,” Cicilline, an openly gay Democrat, said in a statement.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved state Rep. Arthur Handy's bill which seeks to make Rhode Island the 10th state to legalize such unions. Two years ago, Rhode Island, the only New England state which does not allow gay couples to marry, approved civil unions for gay couples.

In 2001, the House Judiciary Committee heard a similar bill but decided against passage. Then-state Rep. Cicilline cast the sole vote in favor of the proposed legislation.

The full House is expected to take up the bill on Thursday.