same-sex marriage

The Rhode Island Senate approved two virtually identical same-sex marriage bills by a 26-12 margin Wednesday afternoon. The bills still face certain House approval and a signature from Governor Lincoln Chafee, meaning Rhode Island is poised to become the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as next week.

The votes happened with surprising speed after a 17-year effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, filling the Senate chamber and its exterior with scores of joyous supporters.

Tuesday was a remarkable day in Rhode Island politics. First, the five-member GOP contingent in the 38-member state Senate -- including the chamber's low-key minority leader, Dennis Algiere -- offered its unified support for same-sex marriage. Then, and much more significantly, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio found himself on the wrong side of a key vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rhode Island is now on the cusp of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on a 7 – 4 vote. A bill putting the issue up for referendum was defeated by a 6 – 5 vote.

The vote was greeted with jubilation by same sex marriage supporters gathered in a Statehouse hearing room. Supporters say they’re hopeful the committee vote signals full Senate approval. The bill will go to a full Senate vote Wednesday.

Reaction to the Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to weigh in on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.  Rhode Island Public Radio Political Analyst Scott Mackay talks with us about the significance of the scheduled vote, and what to expect from legislators.  

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.

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