Same-Sex Marriage Is Coming to the Ocean State
Rhode Island joined the march of progress Thursday when it became the 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. The decision marks the culmination of a 16-year effort to expand marriage rights in the heavily Roman Catholic state.
The final vote was 56-15 in the state’s House of Representatives. Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law to the jubilant cheers of hundreds of gays, lesbians their families and friends. The first weddings are scheduled to take place Aug. 1, when the law takes effect.
The legislation states that religious institutions can make their own rules regarding who can marry within their facilities and no religious leader will be required to officiate at the wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
According to a November Gallup poll, 53% of Americans support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, up from 27% in 1996. Rhode Island is the final state in the New England region to legalise same-sex marriage.
Once consigned to the political fringe, gay marriage advocates succeeded this year thanks to a sprawling lobbying effort that included support from organised labour leaders, religious clergy, leaders including Chafee and Providence mayor Angel Taveras and hundreds of volunteers. Their efforts overcame the opposition of the Catholic church and lawmakers including senate president Teresa Paiva Weed, who voted no but allowed the issue to come to a vote anyway.