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R.I. nears approval of gay marriage; would be 10th state to do so
The Rhode Island Senate passed a gay-marriage bill Wednesday, bringing the state closer to becoming the 10th in the nation to perform same-sex nuptials.
The measure passed 26-12. The Rhode Island House had passed a slightly different bill and is expected to pass the amended version next week.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, campaigned on his desire to sign such legislation.
During Wednesday's emotional session, senators cited the need to "be blind to love and gender" and carry on the legacy of civil rights and equality.
"If two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment ... the government shouldn't deny them the opportunity to get married," said state Sen. James Doyle, a Democrat. He added that, as an imperfect but religious person, "if the first thing our Lord asks me is why did I vote that way on same-sex marriage, I am doing pretty good."
Supporters and opponents had gathered at the State House in the afternoon. Before the final vote, the senators rejected an amendment to allow voters to consider the issue in 2014.
Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, a Democrat, had struggled with the issue in the past, but decided this year not to block a vote.
The vote reflects a victory for gay-rights activists, who sought to enact gay marriage in all six New England states.
"New England is now complete. Through court rulings, legislative action and wins at the ballot, loving and committed couples from Bangor to Burlington, Providence to Portland, and Cambridge to Concord will soon be able to join in the freedom to marry," said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, said Wednesday.
Separately, Delaware lawmakers are pushing through a gay-marriage bill.
The Delaware House passed a bill Tuesday, and it now goes to the state Senate, which the Democrats also control. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who last year signed a civil-union bill for gay couples, has said he will sign a gay-marriage bill.
Under the measure, Delaware civil unions would be converted to gay marriages.
In Nevada, state senators have passed a bill to repeal that state's marriage amendment and replace it with language requiring the state to recognize gay marriage.
Monday's debate around the measure was heightened when state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, North Las Vegas Democrat, announced that he is gay.
"I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male," Mr. Atkinson said, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Nevada voters have twice approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If the amendment passes the Nevada legislature this year, it must do so again before it can go before voters in 2016.
In Illinois, gay-marriage supporters thought they might be celebrating a full victory by now, but the measure to legalize gay marriage appears stalled in the Illinois state House.
Illinois senators passed a gay-marriage bill on Valentine's Day and, with the full support of virtually all state officials, sought to bring the bill quickly through the state Senate. But opposition — especially from black pastors, Catholics and traditional-values groups in the state — blocked an easy vote in the House.
Efforts to approve gay marriage also stalled in Hawaii's legislature this year.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings in two gay-marriage cases, and lawmakers in some states said they would take a break from the issue this year to see what the high court says.
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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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