To the delight of a crowd of hundreds of people in front of the Statehouse, Governor Lincoln Chafee on Thursday evening signed into law legislation making Rhode Island the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Two companion bills forming the basis for the law sped through the General Assembly in recent weeks, in sharp contrast to how the issue of same-sex marriage languished for the preceding 16 years.
Ian Donnis will be reporting from the statehouse as Rhode Island is poised to join the other New England states that have already legalized same-sex marriage. This follows a battle of almost 20 years.
Two companion bills for same-sex marriage are expected to get overwhelming support during a House vote this afternoon. Immediately after, Governor Lincoln Chafee plans to sign the legislation into law during a ceremony on the south side of the Statehouse.
After helping to shepherd same-sex marriage legislation on what once seemed an improbable path to victory, House Speaker Gordon Fox was a bit surprised Tuesday to be asked about his own wedding plans.
"I'm just trying to plan to get through this session," Fox said, laughing, when asked if he has plans to marry later this year. "That's a curve ball. I hadn't though about that one. Maybe you should ask my partner that."
Governor Lincoln Chafee is expected Thursday to sign into law legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. The House Judiciary Committee quickly approved the bills Tuesday.
Any uncertainty facing the same-sex bills was eliminated when the state Senate overwhelmingly approved them last week. In a largely procedural matter, House Judiciary followed up with an unanimous 13-to-zero vote. Education activist Maryellen Butke, who can recall how fellow gays and lesbians once faced overt hostility in Rhode Island, called the vote historic.