PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox says same-sex marriage legislation is dead for the year.
Fox, who is openly gay and a strong backer of same-sex marriage, says there is insuperable opposition in the Senate. He's sponsoring civil union legislation instead.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, a powerful opponent of gay marriage legislation, says she will support the civil union bill and predicts it will pass.
Governor Lincoln Chafee says he still believes same-sex marriage legislation would be a step forward for the state but respects the Speaker's assessment of the situation.
Officials with Marriage Equality Rhode Island are outraged. They say it's far too soon to say the votes aren't gettable and are urging Fox to keep up the fight for gay marriage.
Meanwhile, opponents of gay marriage aren't closing the door to civil union legislation but aren't exactly cheering over it either. Christopher Plante, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, worries about how the law would be used in a court.
"I'm willing to look at it. In principle these have been problematic and most likely we'll have to come out against it because we do know that gay marriage advocates use the courts and civil union legislation in other places to force same-sex marriage," says Plante.
Gay marriage supporters are also cool to civil unions. They say it deprives gay couples of hundreds of rights bestowed on heterosexual couples.
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