The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing Thursday afternoon on two competing bills to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. One key area of debate is the extent of exceptions for clergy and small businesses in recognizing same-sex marriages.
Same-sex marriage supporters back a bill similar to one passed by the House in January. They say it would allow same-sex couples to marry while protecting religious freedoms.
Opponents of same-sex marriage are rallying behind a competing bill they call a compromise. It would make legalizing same-sex marriage contingent on a statewide vote. The bill would also allow far broader exemptions for religious officials and small businesses that don’t want to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Judiciary Committee is expected to take hours of testimony for and against each of the two bills. The 10-member Committee is closely divided between supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage. It isn’t expected to vote on the legislation until later in the General Assembly session.
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