A Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.
The hearing will take place nearly two months after the state House of Representatives approved the measure introduced by state Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) by a 51-19 vote margin. Lesbian state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) sponsored the proposal in the Senate.
Lawmakers will also consider a bill introduced by state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence) that would place the marriage bill before Rhode Island voters in 2014 if it were to become law.
Rhode Island remains the only New England state in which gays and lesbians cannot marry.
The state’s civil unions law took effect in 2011, but only a few dozen couples have taken advantage of it. Governor Lincoln Chafee last year signed an executive order that ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut and other jurisdictions.
“So many of us feel that this is long overdue here in Rhode Island,” Chafee told the Washington Blade in January. “The fact we’re trailing other New England states in passing marriage equality is added incentive to get it done this year on the 350th anniversary of the charter.”