Committee sends same-sex marriage bill to House floor
The House Judiciary Committed unanimously agreed Tuesday to send a marriage-equality bill to the full House for consideration, moving Rhode Island one step closer to becoming the final state in New England to allow same-sex marriage.
If passed by the House – a voted was expected to pass on Thursday – the bill will move to the state Senate. Sen. President Teresa Paiva Weed, who opposes the bill, said she promises the proposed legislation will get a vote in her chamber.
If both the House and Senate pass the bill, it will certainly be signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an outspoken supporter of marriage equality.
“I am pleased that, with the House Judiciary Committee’s vote this afternoon, Rhode Island has taken another significant step forward toward marriage equality,” Chafee said in a statement Tuesday. “As I noted in my state of the state address last week, there are a number of reasons why we should bring marriage equality to Rhode Island this year. It is a civil rights issue, it is an issue of basic fairness, and it is an economic development issue. We are at an economic disadvantage with our neighboring states when we do not have the welcome mat out for all those who want to work here and contribute to our economy. Rhode Island already lags behind all of our New England neighbors on this issue. We should swiftly remedy that for the good of our economy and the rights of our citizens.”
U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, an openly gay representative from Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district, released a statement commending the House.
“I applaud the action of the House Judiciary Committee,” said the former Providence mayor. “Following President Obama’s inaugural address that called for gay Americans to be treated equally under the law, I am pleased that the House Judiciary Committee has taken the first step towards enacting full marriage equality in our state. This important effort has received the support of a growing number of Rhode Islanders from nearly every political background and religious tradition, and I believe it is time our state recognizes the dignity and value of relationships between committed and loving individuals of the same gender by enacting full marriage equality in Rhode Island.”
Said Chafee, “With this afternoon’s vote, we are one step closer to the day when gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders can enjoy the same fundamental rights, benefits and privileges as all other citizens of our state. It is my hope that that day will come soon. I urge the leaders of the House and Senate to call the roll, and I will be proud to sign this important legislation when it reaches my desk.”