The Rhode Island House on Thursday
approved a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with
civil unions, The Providence Journal reported.
After a House panel approved the
measure with a 9-3 vote on Tuesday, the full chamber agreed with a
62-11 vote, sending the controversial measure, sponsored by
Democratic Representative Peter Petrarca, to the Senate for final
Petrarca offered his bill after House
Speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay and backs marriage equality, announced
that a gay marriage proposal sponsored by Democratic Representative
Arthur Handy has “no realistic chance” of being approved in the
General Assembly this session.
“I am very proud of my colleagues in
the House of Representatives for recognizing that this is the right
piece of legislation at the right time,” Petrarca said. “This
bill is a step forward to ensuring equality and improving their
quality of life.”
House members considered, but
ultimately rejected, three amendments.
Democratic Representative Arthur
Corvese's amendment would have added language to the bill declaring
that marriage is “between one man and one woman.”
Handy introduced an amendment that
would transform the civil unions bill into a gay marriage bill. Fox
said it violated a House rule that forbids an amendment from making
such drastic modifications.
A third amendment that would have put
the issue on the ballot was voted down by members.
If approved, Rhode Island would become
the fourth state after New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois to
offer such unions.