Gay groups are cheering passage of a
gay marriage bill on Thursday in Rhode Island.
A debate in the Senate held last week,
which had been cast for years as a dead-end for the bill, turned out
instead to be friendly, even among Republicans, who unanimously voted
in favor of gay nuptials.
On Thursday, the day after changes in
the Senate cleared a House committee, the full House approved the
amended measure and sent it to Governor Lincoln Chafee, who wasted no
time in signing the bill.
Within minutes after passage, hundreds of jubilant supporters joined
Chafee on the steps of the Rhode Island State House, which overlooks
downtown Providence, for a swiftly organized signing ceremony.
“I am proud to say that now at long
last, you are free to marry the person you love,” Chafee told the
On August 1, the day the law takes
effect, Rhode Island will no longer be the lone New England state
without marriage equality.
“Today Rhode Island – and now all
of New England – has embraced the freedom to marry and live up to
our American promise of liberty and justice for all,” Marc Solomon,
national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement.
“That the entire Rhode Island Senate GOP caucus joined with a vast
majority of Democratic lawmakers to live up to the state's values in
voting for marriage will inspire more momentum in more states. It is
time now for the Supreme Court to uphold these American values for
all loving and committed couples.”
“Thousands of Rhode Islanders have
waited and worked hard for many years to ensure that all families
would have the respect and recognition that only marriage provides,
and today is the culmination of their steadfast commitment to
equality,” said Lee Swislow, executive director of GLAD, the
Boston-based attorney group which won marriage equality for
Massachusetts in 2003.
On Saturday, Rhode Islanders United for
Marriage, the coalition of groups which lobbied for passage of the
marriage bill, released a video documenting the long struggle for marriage
equality in Rhode Island.
With a The Lumineers Ho Hey
soundtrack playing in the background, the video breaks in as
supporters testify in favor of the bill.
“I say choose love,” sixth-grader
Matthew Lannon is seen telling lawmakers. (The video is embedded on
this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
Lannon stood next to Chafee as he
signed the bill into law on Thursday.