Earlier this week, the Nevada Senate passed a measure to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and now the state of Rhode Island seems to be taking their own marriage-equality fight a step further as they are now on the road to becoming the 10th U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Yesterday, after getting House approval in January, the Rhode Island Senate passed a marriage equality bill, with a 26 to 12 margin, after 90 minutes of debate. The bill could go into effect as early as Aug. 1, after another routine trip through the House and a signature from of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, who supports marriage equality.
“I’m very much looking forward to signing this,” said Chafee in an interview with The Associated Press as he congratulated supporters.
According to the bill, religious and fraternal-benefit organizations won’t be forced to perform same-sex marriages, but those exceptions will not be extended to businesses in the wedding industry.
And with religion being the source of much of the delay over the measure, many of the lawmakers who are religious felt torn over the decision.
“I’m a practicing Catholic. I’m proud to be a Catholic. I struggled with this for days, for weeks. It’s certainly not an easy vote,” Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, who decide to “vote on the side of love.”
Surprisingly, all five of the Senate’s Republican lawmakers voted on the side of love as well. And for the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Donna Nesselbush, D-Pawtucket, the passage of the bill is both a personal and national win.
“This is a historic piece of legislation, one that literally has been in the works for more than 20 years,” said Nesselbush to The Associated Press. “This is something that undoes centuries of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also praised the Rhode Island Senate for their landmark decision.
“We congratulate Rhode Islanders United for Marriage and all those working so hard to secure the freedom to marry for Rhode Islanders. We are proud to stand with them in this effort. This has been a journey of changing hearts and minds, of personal and poignant conversations about why marriage matters, of shining a spotlight on our common humanity. The transformative nature of people talking about their love and their lives is clear, as we see with this victory in Rhode Island, and in the fact that a clear and ever-growing majority of Americans supports marriage equality,” said the NGLTF
Well, we commend and congratulate the Rhode Island Senate on voting in favor of love and equality, and we hope the bill is just the first in a series of laws that will provide equal rights and freedoms to the state’s LGBT community.
Check out the other U.S. states and districts that recognize same-sex marriage below. –nicholas robinson