marriage equality

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Same-sex couples are saying “I Do” and applying for marriage licenses across the state. Rhode Island and Minnesota are the 12th and 13th states in the country legalizing gay marriage.

Just minutes after the city clerk’s office opened, employees welcomed Cranston’s first same-sex couple seeking a license. “We opened at 8:30 so you’re our first customer,” said Cranston City Clerk Maria Wall. At 8:32 Karl Staatz and Royce Kilbourn walked into the clerk’s office with hands full of paperwork ready to get a marriage license. After 21 years together, they’re tying the knot next week.

As same-sex marriage becomes legal in Rhode Island Thursday, state Representative Frank Ferri and his longtime partner are among those planning to mark the day by tying the knot.  It took almost 20 years to legalize same-sex marriage in the Ocean State.

Ferri and his partner, Tony Caparco, plan to marry in Warwick this evening with about 300 friends and family members on hand. House Speaker Gordon Fox will perform the ceremony. Ferri, a Warwick Democrat, says the newfound ability of gays and lesbians to marry in Rhode Island will lend special meaning to the nuptials.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Thursday will be a happy day in Rhode Island, now that the state’s same-sex marriage law is in effect. The governor has pushed for bringing same-sex marriage to the state since taking office. He said it will help create jobs.

“I do believe that young, creative people that want to come and do business, you just want to have a welcome mat out. I do believe it’s very, very important to growing the economy in Rhode Island," said Chafee.

Channing Memorial Church in Newport will hold, as they’d call it, a service of celebration for the first day of marriage equality in Rhode Island this Thursday, August 1st.  The event will include music, a brief listing of same-sex couples from the past thru the present and a number of different readings, including passages from the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. 

file / RIPR

The City of Providence started accepting pre-applications for same-sex marriage licenses Monday, but the throngs of people expected failed to materialize.  As of midday only two gay couples had applied, according to city registrar Serena Conley.

“Well this morning we’ve had two couples in. They were here bright and early, 8:30 in the morning, very excited to be here,” said Conley, who adds both couples were male. “They were extremely excited and very, very happy. One couple was actually grinning from ear to ear.”