The Rhode Island House will hold a vote on a gay marriage bill on Thursday, marking the first time the issue will receive a vote in either the House or Senate.

Marriage legislation has been introduced every year in Rhode Island since 1997.

The bill with its 42 sponsors is expected to easily clear the 75-member House.

Representative Arthur Handy, the measure's champion in the chamber, told the AP that he has seen increased support for the measure.

“It's a harder 'no' vote than people may have thought,” he said.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of marriage equality, on Wednesday called on members to crowd the House galleries.

“Rhode Island has bravely held out against the tide of radical politics that has swept across its neighboring states in New England,” NOM wrote, “where same sex activists have succeeded in forcing their agenda through the legislatures.”

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.