The Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state last night with a vote of 51-19. The decision pushes the effort to bring marriage equality to the last New England state closer than ever to fruition.
Experts expected the bill, a form of which has been introduced in the legislation for each of the past 11 years, to pass with a significant majority. House Speaker Gordon D. Fox is openly gay, and 42 of the 75 House members had co-signed as sponsors. Until now, marriage equality legislation had never made it out of committee and on to the floor for a full vote.
Before the vote, more than 100 marriage equality supporters endured lengthy speeches from a few anti-equality Representatives, who carped on the vague concept of “natural law” and the unfounded theory that marriage between two people of the same gender was somehow unnatural.
Yet when the final vote was tallied, the bill passed easily and the onlookers erupted into applause and whoops of celebration.
A poll appearing on the website of the Providence Journal today revealed reader’s opinion slightly favoring same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. Fifty-one percent (3.668 votes) supported marriage equality, 45 percent (3,274 votes) opposed it, and 4 percent (258 votes) were not sure.
The bill will now head to the Senate, where no deadline has been established for debates or votes.