WASHINGTON – Today the Rhode Island Senate Republican Caucus announced its support for a bill that would grant marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, becoming the first unanimous decision by a legislative caucus of either party in the nation to back marriage equality legislation. The State Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve the legislation later today.
“This is a game changer,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Never before has an entire legislative caucus, much less a Republican caucus, unanimously backed marriage equality legislation. The bipartisan momentum for equality grows with each day that passes, and it’s becoming increasingly clearer that the walls of discrimination are crumbling. Our lawmakers in Washington and across the country should look to Rhode Island today as an example of what true leadership looks like.”
In announcing the endorsement of marriage equality, the Senate Judiciary Committee said a statement, “Our Senate Republican Caucus is deeply committed to the values of freedom, liberty and limited government. In accordance with those values, we believe that freedom means freedom for everyone, and that every citizen of Rhode Island deserves the freedom to marry the person they love…We support Senate Bill 38 because it rightfully extends the civil aspects of marriage to all Rhode Islanders while protecting the freedom of religion our state was founded upon.”
Upon passage of the bill, Rhode Island will become the tenth state—and the final state in the northeast United States—where gay and lesbian couples can receive civil marriage licenses. The legislation was passed by the House 51-19 in January. Marriage equality legislation has received bipartisan support in each state where it has passed.
An increasing number of Republicans nationwide support marriage equality, including a majority of Republicans under the age of 50, according to a March Washington Post-ABC News poll.