Marriage Equality passes Rhode Island House vote 51-19

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By Alessio Tummolillo

After passing the House Judiciary Committee in Rhode Island, the bill supporting Marriage Equality has passed a vote in the full House and will now move on to the Senate.

The bill won a substantial victory with a 51-19 vote. 

Openly gay Rep. Frank Ferri, who said he and his partner have been together for 32 years, said after the proceedings that, “This is an exceptional moment, and it’s taken a long time.”

Rhode Island legalized civil unions last year, but remains the only New England state without Marriage Equality for gay and lesbian couples. Similar legilsation has been proposed in the state since 1997, but hasn’t, until now, made it to a floor vote. 

The bill will now go to the Senate, where it meets some opposition. The president of the Senate, Democrat Teresa Paiva Weed, is against the measure, but will allow it to be voted on. It’s expected to take weeks or months to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Arthur J. Corvese, a Catholic Democrat, also opposed the bill. In a notable tirade against the legislation, gay activists in general, and the ACLU, he argued that same-sex marriage would “open Pandora’s box for marriage,” according to sdgln.com. He also said that marriage isn’t about gay rights, or civil rights, or love, but about procreation. 

Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry supports the bill, and urged the Senate not to use the measure to “play politics,” by turning their votes into bargaining chips. The Governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, is also in favor of Marriage Equality and opposes any efforts to put the issue on the ballot. He believes that human rights should never be decided by voters.

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