More than 60 business leaders last week united to form Rhode Island Business Leaders for Marriage Equality.

The nascent group is calling on lawmakers to approve a gay marriage bill currently in the Rhode Island Senate. The bill cleared the House last month with a broad 51-19 vote.

The measure faces a steeper climb in the Senate, where Democratic leaders remain opposed but have promised to hold a committee hearing.

In a press release announcing the new coalition, business leaders touted the economic benefits of allowing gay couples to marry.

“The Newport County Chamber of Commerce said it best: Without marriage equality, Rhode Island puts itself at a significant economic disadvantage by not recognizing and respecting all loving, committed couples in the Ocean state,” said Sally Lapides, president of Residential Properties Ltd. “Ours is the only New England state without marriage equality, and Rhode Island firms are losing business. That's why we need the General Assembly to pass this important legislation.”

Max Winograd, president and co-founder of NuLabel Technologies, a polymer science and engineering innovations company, said the measure was needed to keep the state competitive.

“Marriage equality would strengthen the workforce of Rhode Island employers,” Winograd stated. “This legislation is good for business and good for Rhode Island.”

(On the Net: Rhode Island Business Leaders for Marriage Equality.)