Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Thursday signed a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the Ocean State.
“Today we are making history,” he said. “We are living up to the ideals of our founders.”
Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Campaign Director Ray Sullivan, gay House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence) and other same-sex marriage supporters joined Chafee on the steps of the State House in Providence as he signed the measure into law. The state House of Representatives gave final approval to the bill by a 56-15 vote margin less than an hour before the signing ceremony.
“This law does not take anything away from a heterosexual couple,” lesbian state Rep. Deb Ruggiero (D-Jamestown) said. “Nothing is going to change, but tomorrow morning for gays and lesbians it’s going to be a very, very different world.”
State Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Providence) referenced her gay brother when she spoke in support of the measure.
“I rise in support of love in the state of Rhode Island,” she said.
Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Corvese (D-North Providence,) who introduced a bill that would have prompted a same-sex marriage referendum in 2014, once again spoke against nuptials for gays and lesbians before the vote.
“There is no man made law that can ever replace, supplant, suppress or subjugate the natural law,” he said.
Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence urged Rhode Island Catholics in a letter that will run in its newspaper on May 9 they should “examine their consciences very carefully” before they decide to “endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies.”
“Like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize ‘same-sex marriage,’” he writes.
Christopher Plante, regional director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, also criticized the bill’s passage.
“Redefining marriage into a genderless institution to satisfy the demands of a small but politically powerful group is short-sighted policy that fails to take into account the rights and needs of the generations to come,” he told the Providence Journal before Chafee signed it into law.
Rhode Island is the 10th state to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Gays and lesbians can legally exchange vows in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut as well as in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maryland, Iowa, Washington and D.C. The Delaware Senate on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the First State.
“This is a great day in Rhode Island,” Fox said. “It is also a wonderful day for the generations of future Rhode Islanders who may never know a time when some people didn’t have all the same rights as others, and who hopefully will grow up wondering how on earth that ever could have been the law.”
“Governor, with the stroke of your pen, you will undo centuries of discrimination,” state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket,) who introduced the bill in the state Senate, added before Chafee signed the measure into law. “Our moment has arrived.”
Rhode Island’s same-sex marriage law will take effect on Aug. 1.
The 26-12 vote came a day after the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the measure.
“Of all the bills I will ever sponsor, this will be the bill that will have the most impact on my life,” state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket,) who sponsored Senate Bill 38, said before the vote. She specifically thanked Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Newport,) who opposes same-sex marriage, for allowing a vote in the chamber.
State Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown,) who is among the five members of the Senate Republican Caucus who on Tuesday announced their support of SB 38, said before the vote he backs the proposal because of “dignity, fairness and the rule of law.” Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Providence) repeatedly highlighted her Catholic faith before she announced she would vote for the measure.
“I will be casting my vote on the side of love,” she said.
Neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the nine states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.
Rhode Island’s civil unions law took effect in 2011, but less than 100 couples have taken advantage of it. Governor Lincoln Chafee last year signed an executive order that mandated state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.
Senators rejected an proposed amendment to SB 38 by state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence) that would have placed the issue before Rhode Island voters in 2014. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday struck down the Providence Democrat’s referendum bill by a 6-5 vote margin.
Other same-sex marriage opponents also spoke out against SB 38 before it passed.
“The Bible is clear: marriage is between one man and one woman,” state Sen. Harold Metts (D-Providence) said. “God’s word places me in opposition to Senate Bill 38.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives, which in January overwhelmingly approved its own same-sex marriage bill, is expected to grant final approval to SB 38 on May 2 once it goes through the House Judiciary Committee.
Chafee has said he will sign the bill into law.
“Pending the final vote by the House of Representatives, Rhode Island will no longer be an outlier in our region,” the governor said in a statement. “We will have the welcome mat out. We will be open for business, and we will once again affirm our legacy as a place that is tolerant and appreciative of diversity.”
State Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston,) who introduced the same-sex marriage bill in the House, also welcomed SB 38′s passage.
“For the many Rhode Islanders who have been waiting all their lives for equality and recognition that they deserve the same rights and responsibilities as their neighbors, today is a great relief,” he said. “At last, marriage equality is going to happen.”
Same-sex marriage is expected to become legal in Rhode Island on Aug. 1.
A Rhode Island Senate committee on Tuesday voted to advance a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the state.
The 7-4 vote came a month after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a marathon hearing on Senate Bill 38. The Rhode Island House of Representatives in January overwhelmingly approved the same-sex marriage proposal.
“We have before us a historic piece of legislation,” state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket,) who sponsored SB 38, said before the vote took place.
Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, applauded the committee’s vote.
“This is an incredible and historic step forward in the campaign to ensure all loving, committed couples in Rhode Island have the freedom to marry,” he said. “We are pleased and proud that the members of the Judiciary Committee were so receptive to the thousands of their constituents who reached out and urged them to vote yes on Sen. Nesselbush’s bill.”
Neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the nine states and D.C. that allow same-sex marriage.
Rhode Island’s civil unions law took effect in 2011, but only a few dozen couples have taken advantage of it. Governor Lincoln Chafee, who supports nuptials for gays and lesbians, last year signed an executive order that ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.
“Rhode Island currently stands as an island of inequality in our region,” Chafee said in a statement after the vote. “At this time of intense economic competition, we cannot afford to lag behind our New England neighbors and New York in this important area.”
The full Senate will vote on SB 38 tomorrow afternoon.
GOP senators back marriage bill
All five members of the Senate Republican Caucus announced their support of the proposal hours before the committee approved it.
“We support Senate Bill 38 because it rightfully extends the civil aspects of marriage to all Rhode Islanders while protecting the freedom of religion our state was founded upon,” state Sens. Dennis Algiere, David Bates, Dawson Hodgson, Nicholas Kettle and Chris Ottiano said in a joint statement. “Gay and lesbian couples deserve to be treated equally under the law, and at the same time churches, synagogues and mosques in our state must be free to exercise their faith and their sacraments as they see fit. This bill strikes the right balance and should be passed by the Senate.”
Committee members on Tuesday also voted 6-5 to kill a measure that would have placed a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman in Rhode Island on the 2014 ballot.
“Members of the committee heard from their constituents in strong opposition to putting fundamental rights on the ballot, and we thank them for defeating this divisive and harmful referendum bill,” Sullivan said.
Lawmakers in Delaware and Rhode Island on Tuesday will vote on bills that would allow gays and lesbians to marry in their respective states.
The Delaware House of Representatives will vote on a same-sex marriage bill the House Administrative Committee advanced by a 4-1 vote margin on April 11. The Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on an identical measure the state’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved in January.
“I’m confident that we have a majority of Delaware representatives – so over 21 out of the 41 – that will do the right thing and vote to support equality in Delaware,” Delaware state Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear) said after the House Administrative Committee advanced HB 75.
Maryland and eight other states and D.C. currently allow same-sex marriage.
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed told the March 21 hearing on the measure that took place in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The state House of Representatives in January overwhelmingly approved it.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee has said he will sign into law if it passes in the Senate.
The Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday held a marathon hearing on a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
“I am your teammate and it’s just not right the way our laws currently discriminate against me in my earnest desire to marry Kelly,” state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket,) who introduced Senate Bill 38 in the Senate, said during the start of the hearing that lasted more than 12 hours. A member of the audience booed the lawmaker after she spoke about her partner.
Governor Lincoln Chafee stressed the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples would benefit the state’s economy — Rhode Island’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country.
“We need to grow our economy,” Chafee said. “Now’s the time to end this discrimination in Rhode Island against gays.”
State Treasurer Gina Raimondo referenced her husband and two young children during her testimony in support of the same-sex marriage bill.
“Every Rhode Islander deserves the same civil rights we have,” she said. “Every child deserves the same rights our children have to grow up within the context of a loving married couple.”
State Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown) referenced former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman and the more than 100 other Republicans who signed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in the case that challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. He also cited former Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the GOP who back the issue during his testimony.
“The freedom to marry represents the basic conservative values of responsibility and fidelity,” Hodgson said.
Kelly Frederick of the Alliance Defending Freedom said marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, D.C. and Illinois “forced” Catholic Charities in the three jurisdictions “out of the adoption business because of their religious beliefs.” Rev. Bernard Healey of St. Luke’s Church in Barrington testified against Senate Bill 38 on behalf of the Diocese of Providence.
“Marriage should not be redefined,” he said. “It radically redefines marriage for everybody in the state.”
The committee heard testimony on the same-sex marriage measure and Senate Bill 708, a measure sponsored by state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence) that would place a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state on the 2014 ballot, less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases that challenge Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the nine states and D.C. that allow same-sex marriage.
Rhode Island’s civil unions law took effect in 2011, but only a few dozen couples have taken advantage of it. Chafee last year signed an executive order that ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.
Ciccone is among those who spoke in support of SB 708.
“What people do in their bedrooms can never compare to what African Americans went through during slavery,” state Sen. Harold Metts (D-Providence) said as he criticized comparisons between the same-sex marriage movement and the civil rights struggle. “The Bible is clear: marriage is between one man and one woman.”
State Sens. Leonidas Raptakis (D-Coventry) and James Doyle (D-Pawtucket) were among the SB 708 co-sponsors, but they removed their names as supporters earlier this week. Doyle also announced he will vote for the same-sex marriage bill if it reaches the Senate floor.
State Sen. Nicholas Kettle (R-Coventry) on Wednesday announced he too would no longer back Ciccone’s bill.
“Since this bill was introduced, thousands of Rhode Islanders have called their senators and urged them to take a stand against this divisive legislation,” Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, said. “The proposed referendum bill is neither a compromise, nor an ‘eminently reasonable’ solution to the question of allowing all Rhode Islanders to marry the person they love.”
A Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.
The hearing will take place nearly two months after the state House of Representatives approved the measure introduced by state Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) by a 51-19 vote margin. Lesbian state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) sponsored the proposal in the Senate.
Lawmakers will also consider a bill introduced by state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence) that would place the marriage bill before Rhode Island voters in 2014 if it were to become law.
Rhode Island remains the only New England state in which gays and lesbians cannot marry.
The state’s civil unions law took effect in 2011, but only a few dozen couples have taken advantage of it. Governor Lincoln Chafee last year signed an executive order that ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut and other jurisdictions.
“So many of us feel that this is long overdue here in Rhode Island,” Chafee told the Washington Blade in January. “The fact we’re trailing other New England states in passing marriage equality is added incentive to get it done this year on the 350th anniversary of the charter.”
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—The Illinois House Executive Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.
The 6-5 vote came less than two weeks after the state Senate approved the measure.
“The momentum we are seeing on this legislation is truly inspiring,” said gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago,) who sponsored the bill in the House. “Illinois is very close to treating all of its families equally under the law. I look forward to bringing this to a full vote in the House.”
Nine states and D.C. currently allow gays and lesbians to legally marry. Lawmakers in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Minnesota are expected to debate the issue in the coming days and weeks.
Gov. Pat Quinn has repeatedly said he would sign the same-sex marriage bill if it were to reach his desk.
NEW YORK — When Brown University in Providence, R.I., announced last week it would extend health care coverage to transgender students to provide for their gender reassignment surgery, it became the 36th college to do so, the New York Times reported. Just six years ago, no U.S. colleges offered the benefit.
Another 25 colleges don’t cover surgery but have student plans that cover hormone therapy. Another 20 universities have plans that cover some or all sex-change treatments for their employees, the Times reported citing information from the Transgender Law and Policy Institute.
Those lists include many of the top American universities — Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Penn, Emory, Northwestern, the University of California system, Yale, Princeton, M.I.T., Washington University and others, the Times reported. Colleges are not required to provide health coverage for their students, many of whom are still covered by their parents’ plans, but they generally do, the article said. These are typically schools that, five or 10 years ago, took smaller first steps to accommodate trans students such as allowing trans women to have female roommates and use the women’s restroom, the Times reported.