Gordon D. Fox was elected the state's
first openly gay House Speaker on Thursday, the Providence Journal
Fox was widely considered the
front-runner in a three man race that included Representative Gregory
Schadone, a Democrat from North Providence, and Robert Watson, a
Republican from East Greenwich. Fox received the support of nearly
three-quarters of the chamber's members.
In an interview with the paper last
fall, Fox, who came out publicly in 2004, said he is “in a
long-term relationship, but not officially married,” and when he
does marry, he would like to do it in his home state. Fox's
ascension is likely to help make that a reality.
Rhode Island is the only New England
state that has not legalized gay marriage. Last year, Maine
lawmakers approved a gay marriage bill, but opponents successfully
repealed the law after a difficult fight that drew national attention
to the state.
But lawmakers in the Ocean State have
debated gay marriage for 13 years running.
While Fox has kept mum about whether he
would personally shepherd a gay marriage bill in the House, he's
certainly in favor of gay marriage, having come out at a rally for
Rhode Island is following in the steps
of the California Assembly, which selected
40-year-old John Perez – an openly gay man – as speaker last
Proponents of gay marriage are also
counting on flipping the governor's mansion blue next year. Both
men seeking the Democratic nomination for Rhode Island governor,
along with an Independent candidate, have pledged to sign a gay
marriage bill if elected.
Republican Rhode Island Governor Don
Carcieri, who is limited to two terms, opposes giving gay and lesbian
couples the right to marry.
Fox, 48, began work moments after
Democrat William J. Murphy stepped down.