To the delight of a crowd of hundreds of people in front of the Statehouse, Governor Lincoln Chafee on Thursday evening signed into law legislation making Rhode Island the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Two companion bills forming the basis for the law sped through the General Assembly in recent weeks, in sharp contrast to how the issue of same-sex marriage languished for the preceding 16 years.
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.