Groups on Wednesday cheered as a gay
marriage bill cleared its final legislative hurdle in Rhode Island.
Three months after the Rhode Island
House overwhelmingly approved the measure, the Senate followed suit,
approving the bill with a 26-12 vote.
The bill must return to the House for a
largely procedural vote before heading to the desk of independent
Governor Lincoln Chafee, an outspoken supporter of marriage equality.
state to legalize gay marriage.)
“New England is now complete,” Marc
Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, said in a
statement. “Through court rulings, legislative action, and wins at
the ballot, loving and committed couples from Bangor to Burlington,
Providence to Portland, and Cambridge to Concord will soon be able to
join in the freedom to marry.”
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group which supports openly LGBT
candidates, thanked the state's four openly gay lawmakers who worked
on the bill: House Speaker Gordon Fox, Rep. Frank Ferri, Rep. Deb
Ruggiero and Senator Donna Nesselbush. Nesselbush carried the bill
in the Senate over the finish line.
“All four of Rhode Island's openly
gay and lesbian lawmakers fought hard for this amazing victory. They
spoke authentically about what this legislation means to them and
their partners, and to all LGBT Rhode Islanders,” Wolfe said in an
email to supporters urging them to
sign a “thank you” card.
Lee Swislow, the executive director of
GLAD, the Boston-based attorney group which won marriage equality for
Massachusetts in 2003, also congratulated Rhode Island.
“New England is poised to be a
marriage equality zone, a beacon of justice and fairness for the rest
of our country,” Swislow said in an email to supporters. “And
the day will come when that equality zone encompasses all fifty
states and the federal government.”
Several elected officials also
applauded the victory, including Rhode Island Representatives David
N. Cicilline and Jim Langevin and Governor Lincoln Chafee.
“Congratulations to @RIUnited staff,
supporters & volunteers for the tremendous effort that made today
possible,” he tweeted along with a photo of himself surrounded by
marriage equality supporters.