Ray Sullivan

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Ray Sullivan, who led Rhode Island United's successful campaign this year to legalize same-sex marriage, is joining Checkmate Consulting Group, Brad Dufault's advertising, marketing and PR shop, as a partner.

With a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on same-sex marriage legislation expected as soon as next week, the group leading the campaign in favor of legalization says it plans to deploy more than 300 people this weekend to knock on doors and make phone calls.

Ray Sullivan, the head of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, says the stepped-up effort is meant to connect constituents in key Senate districts with their legislators "to carry the message and the banner that it's finally time to pass marriage equality."

Bess Marine

Legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage in Rhode Island remains under consideration in the state Senate. Supporters want the General Assembly to approve same-sex marriage; opponents are backing a bill with broad exceptions that would make the issue subject to a statewide vote. Exactly when the Senate will vote on these bills remains unclear. Yet both sides are relying on grassroots campaigns to tip the outcome in their favor. These efforts could determine whether Rhode Island changes its status as the only New England state that has not yet legalized same-sex marriage.

State Capitol Dome and Independent Man
RIPR file

Critics say a bill calling for a statewide referendum on same-sex marriage would expand discrimination in Rhode Island.

A bill calling for a statewide referendum to decide the fate of same-sex marriage legislation was filed Wednesday in the state Senate. Proposed legislation also offers exemptions for religious officials and small businesses that don’t want to be involved with same-sex weddings.

The bill sponsored by Providence Democrat Frank Ciccone has 10 other sponsors, eight of them Democrats.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a same-sex marriage bill in January. The Senate has slated a March 21st hearing.