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Rhode Island House approves marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

The Rhode Island state House of Representatives has just voted in favor of marriage equality by a vote of 51-19. The bill now goes to the Senate where passage is uncertain, but Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, a Democrat, has said she will allow a committee vote to occur. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent, will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Marriage equality legislation was first introduced in the Rhode Island legislature in 1997 and has been re-introduced unsuccessfully in every year since.  This is the first time it has passed out of committee and been approved by one of the houses of the Rhode Island General Assembly.  If the legislation is signed into law, Rhode Island would become the 10th state in the Union to provide equal marriage rights to same-sex couples and the last state in New England to do so, making that are the first region in the United States with full marriage equality.

Congratulations, Rhode Island!

Governor Chafee has issued a statement:

There are certain legislative votes that can fairly be characterized as “historic.” The Rhode Island House of Representatives’ overwhelming passage of marriage equality legislation is one such vote.

I think most immediately of the pioneers of the House who have been working to achieve this goal for many years. Former state representatives such as Michael Pisaturo, who first introduced the Equal Access to Marriage Act in the mid-1990s, David Cicilline, who was the lone member of the House Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of marriage equality legislation in 2001, and Ray Sullivan. And current members such as Speaker Fox, Chairwoman Ajello, Deputy Majority Leader Ferri, and Chairman Handy, the bill’s longtime sponsor. I think also of activists such as the late Julie Pell, who certainly would have been encouraged to see this significant step forward.

Although this vote is indeed historic, there is still a long way to go. Now that the House has swiftly acted, I urge Senate leadership to “call the roll” – for our economy, for our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors, and for history.

Rep. David N. Cicilline also has a statement:

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to pass marriage equality in the House and recognize the dignity and equality of LGBT relationships.


  • 1. Rich  |  January 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Beautiful testimony was delivered. I have sent an e-mail to the Senate President respectfully asking her to consider all the positives connected to this house vote. I encourage others to, respectfully, contact her as well. Momentum is on our side. Let's push everyone.

  • 2. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    […] is in no hurry to take up the marriage equality bill that the state House of Representatives passed last week.  Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who opposes equal marriage rights, told WPRI that […]

  • 3. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  February 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    […] the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted late last month to pass a marriage equality bill–the first time in 16 years that such a […]

  • 4. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  March 20, 2013 at 8:55 am

    […] religious exemptions may again be the key to the fate of a proposed marriage equality bill which passed the Rhode Island House in late January and is scheduled for consideration by a state Senate panel […]

  • 5. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  April 18, 2013 at 8:10 am

    […] Rhode Island House passed its own version of SB38 in late January by a vote of 51-19, while the Senate Judiciary Committee […]

  • 6. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  April 23, 2013 at 8:25 am

    […] to becoming law in the all-important Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Rhode Island House voted to approve the legislation by a wide margin in January.  The bill is widely believed to have the votes […]

  • 7. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  April 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    […] will now return to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, which passed a similar marriage equality bill 51-19 in January but must vote again on SB38, which contains small […]

  • 8. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  May 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    […] convene at 4 p.m. Eastern to give final approval to a proposed marriage equality bill that already passed the chamber by a 51-19 vote in January.  Minor changes to the bill pertaining to religious […]

  • 9. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  May 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    […] House approved an earlier version of the bill overwhelmingly in a 51-19 vote in January.  Minor changes to the […]

  • 10. seo manchester  |  December 15, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Marriages are celberated on earth but are decided on heaven.

  • 11. PassbeeMedia  |  March 28, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Testimony was beautiful. In this respect the votes attached to the house asking him to consider all the positive Senate President has sent an e-mail. In respect, as well as encourage others to contact. Momentum is on our side.

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