Today the Rhode Island state House passed marriage equality legislation, putting the Ocean State on track to become the tenth state in America where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry. The legislation, which passed with bipartisan support, will be signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee later today in a historic signing ceremony on the steps of the Rhode Island State House.
"The unprecedented momentum for marriage across the country continues, with Rhode Island becoming the first state of 2013 to say yes to marriage equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “As the Supreme Court deliberates the fundamental right to marry the person you love, these historic and bipartisan victories keep mounting and prove the country is ready for marriage equality."
The House passed a modified version of legislation it had previously passed in January, which was then amended and passed by the Senate last week. Same-sex couples in Rhode Island can begin applying for marriage licenses August 1, 2013.
The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC has been an integral financial and strategic player in winning marriage in each of the ten states and DC. In Rhode Island, HRC has provided significant financial investment, staff and technical resources over many years to amplify the historic grassroots effort of the Rhode Islanders United for Marriage coalition.
“For several years HRC has been a true partner in Rhode Island’s efforts to win marriage equality in the Ocean State,” said Rhode Islanders United for Marriage campaign manager Ray Sullivan. “HRC provided us with key boots on-the-ground that added to our state’s unprecedented grassroots campaign to win marriage. Thank you, HRC.”
The passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down decisions on two marriage-related cases by the end of June. Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.