HRC Blog

Rhode Island Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Post submitted by Nick Martin, HRC Field Coodinator

The Rhode Island Senate made history today after it passed S38, the marriage equality bill, by 26 to 12. Rhode Island is now poised to become the tenth state along with the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the marriage equality bill in January, but due to an amendment passed in the Senate, it will return to the House for one final vote. Once the House passes the amended bill, the measure will go to marriage equality supporter Governor Lincoln Chafee for his signature.

This vote is particularly historic because earlier this week the Senate Republican Caucus announced their unanimous support of the bill. 

Rhode Island will be the final New England state to enact marriage equality. HRC has been involved for several years in Rhode Island, working with Marriage Equality Rhode Island and legislative allies to build support for relationship recognition in the Ocean State, particularly when civil unions were passed in 2011. 

This year we have joined with Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, the coalition campaign working to pass marriage equality. We contributed staff and other resources to ensure the bill’s success.  HRC sent one of our senior organizers to work with mayors and city councils to build support at the municipal level. We also hired a local faith organizer to work with religious leaders across the spectrum who support fairness and equality for all Rhode Islanders.

The final House vote will likely be next week. The governor is expected to sign the bill shortly thereafter. Marriage equality would take effect August 1.

Amy Mello and clergy flanking one of the doors to the Senate chamber, with Senator Archambault

Senator Donna Nesselbush

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Equality faith organizer Amelia Nugent with Gov. Chafee

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