A Rhode Island Senate panel will
consider a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with
The Senate Judiciary Committee will
hold a hearing on the measure on Thursday, two weeks after the House
approved the measure.
Democratic Representative Peter
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
Fox's announcement that he would back
civil unions over marriage for gay couples drew a loud protest from
marriage equality supporters who said separate is never equal. The
compromise also failed to mollify gay marriage opponents, who claimed
the law would be used as a steppingstone to legalize gay marriage.
If approved, Rhode Island would become
the fourth state after New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois to offers
such unions. A civil unions bill in Colorado died in committee
earlier this year. Illinois'
law takes effect on Wednesday.