Rhode Island Legislature Finalizes Marriage Equality

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox (D), who is openly gay.

The Rhode Island House just completed its final vote on marriage equality, passing the Senate-revised bill 56-15. This is actually a more supportive vote than the House’s original consideration of the bill, which passed 51-19 in January. The Senate passed the bill last week by a 26-12 vote, with some lawmakers changing their vote in support during the floor debate.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) is signing the bill at 5:45 PM. He explained his support for the legislation in an op-ed in the New York Times:

When I sign the Marriage Equality Act into law, I will be thinking of the Rhode Islanders who have fought for decades simply to be able to marry the person they love. I will be thinking of how Rhode Island is upholding its legacy as a place founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity. But I will also be thinking, as all governors must, about the economy. With marriage equality becoming law tomorrow night in Rhode Island, we are sending a clear message that we are open for business, and that all are welcome. I hope that leaders in capitals across the country — including Washington — will soon realize that marriage equality is an issue where doing the right thing and the smart thing are one and the same.

With his signature, Rhode Island becomes the 10th state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, joining Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Iowa, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The law takes effect August 1. The Delaware Senate will consider similar legislation next Tuesday and could become the 11th.