Rhode Island passes marriage equality through House Judiciary Committee


By Alessio Tummolillo

Legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in Rhode Island has passed its first vote in the state’s General Assembly with a unanimous vote by the House Judiciary Committee. 

The legislation will now go up for a vote in the full House of Representatives for consideration and is expected to be considered as early as Thursday. 

Advocates for same-sex marriage say they expect the bill to pass the House, but are less confident about the vote passing in the Senate. Civil unions were approved by lawmakers two years ago after an attempt to mass pull marriage rights in the Senate failed. 

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said last week that she remains opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. 

Leading up to the vote, other important religious and political figures have given their opinion concerning the legislation.

Governor Lincoln Chafee stated: “At its core, the Marriage Equality Act is a matter of fairness. It would extend important social recognition and legal protections to all Rhode Island families and children.”

Chafee also wrote that the ruling would maintain the rights of every religious organization to marry who they choose in their respective faiths.

President Obama was asked by the Washington Blade specifically about the vote to take place in Rhode Island, and received a response from White House spokesperson Shin Inouye:

“While the President does not weigh in on every measure being considered by the states, he believes all couples should be treated fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so.”

Rhode Island’s Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisely also came out in support of the Marriage Equality bill. In a letter to churchgoers, he writes: 

“I have seen what St. Paul describes as the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in the married lives of two men and of two women. I have seen relationships that are loving, mutual, and monogamous and that have lasted a lifetime. Jesus tells us that we must test each tree by looking at the goodness of its fruit (Luke 6:43-45). Across our congregations and communities, I can see the goodness of gay and lesbian couples and their families.”

If the law were to pass both House and Senate, not only would same-sex couples be allowed to marry, but also all civil unions within the state would be recognized as marriages.


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