same-sex marriage

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.

RIPR FILE

Same sex marriage becomes the law of the state today Thursday.  City and town clerks are well trained in the new law but don’t have any idea what kind of volume they’ll be dealing with.

State registrar Colleen Fontana has been working overtime instructing city and town clerks in the new law guaranteeing marriage rights to same sex couples. The new forms – giving couples the option of calling themselves ‘bride,’ ‘groom,’ or ‘spouse’ are printed. Now it’s just a waiting game to see how many people show up to apply today.   Fontana said there’s just no way of knowing.

John Bender / RIPR

The General Assembly legalized same-sex marriage this past May, and when Gov. Chafee signed the legislation into law Rhode Island became the twelfth state in the country to do so. 

Today the state will begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

One of those couples planning to get married now that it is legal is Larry Bacon and Dave Burnett who have been together for 36 years.

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.”

When Gov. Lincoln Chafee and gay marriage advocates two years touted its economic benefits for Rhode Island they were widely disparaged. Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay explains why Chafee and his allies may well be right.

It’s unclear how exactly Wednesday's Supreme Court decision on DOMA will affect health care coverage for same-sex spouses. But Rhode Island’s largest health insurer has already been extending such benefits.

As an employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been offering health coverage to its employees’ same-sex spouses since 2010, said Blue cross compliance officer Martha Holt Castle.

It’s unclear how exactly Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on DOMA will affect health care coverage for same-sex spouses. But Rhode Island’s largest health insurer has already been extending such benefits.

As an employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been offering health coverage to its employees’ same-sex spouses since 2010, said Blue Cross compliance officer Martha Holt Castle.

The leader of a prominent Republican gay rights group is coming to Rhode Island Tuesday.

Gregory Angelo, director of the Log Cabin Republicans, will speak to a meeting of the Rhody Young Republicans.

Angelo says he’ll praise Rhode Island Republicans for backing same sex marriage legislation.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Devin Driscoll, communications head for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage -- which led the grassroots campaign to legalize same-sex marriage -- is heading to a new job, as the Chicago-based Northeast regional director for Organizing for Action, the Democratic effort formerly known as Obama for America.

May rolls in with history being made in Rhode Island. Welcome back to my weekly column. As always, your thoughts and tips are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's head in:

After a 16-year-fight, Rhode Island yesterday (Thursday) became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, supporters hailed the development as a victory for grassroots democracy.

Governor Lincoln Chafee signed two companion bills into law shortly after they were approved, 56-to-15, during a final vote in the House of Representatives. Chafee told an audience of hundreds of people in front of the Statehouse that gays and lesbians have been seeking equality for a long time.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

RI House of Representatives
Catherine Welch / RIPR

Ian Donnis will be reporting from the statehouse as Rhode Island is poised to join the other New England states that have already legalized same-sex marriage. This follows a battle of almost 20 years.

Two companion bills for same-sex marriage are expected to get overwhelming support during a House vote this afternoon. Immediately after, Governor Lincoln Chafee plans to sign the legislation into law during a ceremony on the south side of the Statehouse.

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