Rhode Island became the 10th state to pass marriage equality on Thursday. Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the marriage equality bill into law after the state’s General Assembly approved it 56-15 in a final procedural vote.
A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the State Capitol building on Thursday evening to celebrate and watch the bill signing ceremony. S38, known as the marriage equality bill, was passed by the Rhode Island House in January, but because of an amendment in the Senate draft, it returned for one final vote.
Rhode Island, with a largely Catholic population, is the final state in New England to institute marriage equality. The first weddings could take place as soon as August 1 when the bill will come into effect.
Last week, the Democrat-led state Senate passed the measure. The entire Republican caucus also gave it their approval, announcing in a joint statement on April 23 that “we believe that freedom means freedom for everyone, and that every citizen of Rhode Island deserves the freedom to marry the person they love.”
“After 16 years of fighting for marriage equality we are thrilled that we’ve finally crossed the finish line,” Rhode Island Pride’s Vice-President Kate Monteiro told 429Magazine.
“We did it in truly unique Rhode Island fashion – including unanimous support of the Senate Republicans, the Episcopal bishop, and a whole lot of phone calls, supermarket conversations and door-knocking shoe leather. When Senator Mary Ellen Goodwin, devout Catholic and perennial ‘no’ vote on LGBT issues said ‘I will be casting my vote on the side of love,’ we knew that it might have taken us a decade and a half but in the end, love would carry the day,” she added.