State Rep. to introduce gay marriage bill

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A state lawmaker from Cranston is renewing his push to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.

Democratic state Representative Arthur Handy says he will introduce legislation today to make legal same sex marriage in the Ocean State. This is the ninth year Handy has introduced the measure, but he says he's more optimistic given the swearing in of independent Governor Lincoln Chafee.

"He's said that he supports the bill that Governor Carcieri had said he would veto it," Handy said. "So that's pretty clear."

As of late yesterday, Handy had 27 co-sponsors. He says he may get a few more today but that he will introduce the legislation regardless of the number.

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents are gearing for battle with the expected introduction this afternoon.

Kathy Kushnir of the advocacy group Marriage Equality Rhode Island says it remains unclear whether Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed will permit a vote on the bill in that chamber.

"We are looking to see if the Senate president, who has been a LGBT supporter in the past, will let the Senate take a vote of their conscience," she says.

State Representative Jon Brien of Woonsocket opposes same-sex marriage. He plans to introduce legislation calling for a statewide vote on the issue.

"I just don't think it's an issue that 75 members of the General Assembly, at least in the House of Representatives, or 113 members overall, should say to a state of one million, this is what marriage is going to be, live with it," Brien says.

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