same-sex marriage

Kristin Gourlay/RIPR

All five Republicans in the 38-member Rhode Island Senate - including Minority Leader Dennis Algiere of Westerly - plan to support the same-sex marriage bill backed by supporters of the issue, RIPR has learned.

Kristin Gourlay/RIPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on legislation that could legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.  The issue has never previously come this far in the state Senate.

The 10-member Judiciary Committee plans to vote on two separate bills. One would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples through the legislature. The other one has broader religious exemptions and would make legalizing same-sex marriage subject to a statewide vote.

Depending on what happens with the two bills, the legislation could move to the Senate floor as soon as Thursday.

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Competing same-sex marriage bills -- one backed by supporters, one backed by opponents -- are set to receive a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 3 pm Tuesday afternoon.

Same-sex marriage supporters back the bill introduced by Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) that would grant marriage rights through the legislature.

Opponents favor a bill introduced by Senator Frank Ciccone that vote make the issue subject to a statewide vote. It also includes broad religious and other exemptions.

With a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on same-sex marriage legislation expected as soon as next week, the group leading the campaign in favor of legalization says it plans to deploy more than 300 people this weekend to knock on doors and make phone calls.

Ray Sullivan, the head of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, says the stepped-up effort is meant to connect constituents in key Senate districts with their legislators "to carry the message and the banner that it's finally time to pass marriage equality."

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The full Rhode Island Senate is expected to vote on same-sex marriage legislation within the next few weeks. That’s according to the spokesman for Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.

The first step for the legislation is the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Same-sex marriage supporters want the General Assembly to approve same-sex marriage. Opponents favor a competing bill calling for the issue to be decided through a statewide vote.

The Senate is expected to consider the issue after its spring break next week.

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Congressman David Cicilline discusses a range of issues during a visit with Bonus Q+A, including increasing manufacturing in Rhode Island, a Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage, sharp rhetoric from North Korea, and more.

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State Senator Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield) joins us to talk about the outlook on same-sex marriage; the effectiveness of the General Assembly; whether the master lever should be abolished; and whether Ethics Commission oversight of lawmakers should be restored, among other issues.

Bess Marine

Legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage in Rhode Island remains under consideration in the state Senate. Supporters want the General Assembly to approve same-sex marriage; opponents are backing a bill with broad exceptions that would make the issue subject to a statewide vote. Exactly when the Senate will vote on these bills remains unclear. Yet both sides are relying on grassroots campaigns to tip the outcome in their favor. These efforts could determine whether Rhode Island changes its status as the only New England state that has not yet legalized same-sex marriage.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Senator Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield) joins the Roundtable to discuss same-sex marriage, Governor Lincoln Chafee's blaming of the media for his low approval ratings; and continued woes for the RI GOP.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Senator Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield) believes the "marriage equality" bill backed by same-sex marriage proponents will emerge from the Senate Judiciary Committee and receive overwhelming support in the full Senate.

"I expect it will go to a [committee] vote, and I'm confident it will pass," Archambault says of the same-sex marriage bill introduced by state Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket).

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin issued a statement this morning, calling on the General Assembly to put the brakes on same-sex marriage legislation due to the US Supreme Court's consideration of related issues: