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Rhode Island Now the 10th State to Legalize Same-sex Marriage
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On May 1, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The passage of this law brings Rhode Island into line with the rest of New England on the issue of same-sex marriage, and makes it the tenth state in the U.S. to legalize a type of marriage equality act.

Chafee has been pushing for this legislation since taking office in 2011, and quickly signed it into law after it was voted on by the state’s representatives on January. It was passed by a vote of 51 to 19 in the state’s House of Representatives, and approved in a modified form by the state’s Senate 26 to 12 in April, and the House approved the Senate’s changes yesterday. The law takes effect on August 1, 2013.

  
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In addition to the five other New England states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, same-sex marriage laws have been passed in Iowa, Maryland, New York, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

“I am proud and humbled to make the Marriage Equality Act the law of the land in Rhode Island,” said Chafee. “We would not be where we are today without the Rhode Islanders who for decades have fought for tolerance and freedom over discrimination and division.”

Marc Solomon, the national campaign director at Freedom to Marry, told Bloomberg News, “New England is now complete. We have an entire region of the country that has approved the freedom to marry.”

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Rhode Island’s house is led by Representative Gordon Fox, a Democrat and the country’s first openly gay House speaker. All five Republicans in the 38-member Senate endorsed the proposal. “We recognize that there is a national consensus building on this generational issue, and we are glad that support for the freedom to marry is growing within the Republican Party,” said the caucus in a statement released last week.

The issue of same-sex marriage was an issue in Rhode Island two years ago, as legislators debated a bill that is similar to the one passed this year. Ultimately, the bill was modified to allow civil unions between same-sex couples. Since the previous law was enacted, the state has granted less than 100 same-sex civil unions.





 

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