May 2, 2013

Rhode Island becomes 10th state with gay marriage

It took 16 years to extend gay marriage rights in this heavily Roman Catholic state, and now every New England state allows it.

The Associated Press

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Two men embrace after a gay marriage bill was signed into law outside the State House in Providence, R.I., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox, left, is kissed by R.I. Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, after a gay marriage bill was signed into law outside the State House in Providence, R.I., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Delaware could be the next state to approve gay marriage. Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage has narrowly passed the Delaware House and now awaits a vote in the state Senate.

Advocates in Rhode Island say that while they're proud the state is the 10th to legalize gay marriage, they expect other states to follow quickly as support for same-sex marriage grows around the country. According to a November Gallup poll, 53 percent of Americans support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, up from 27 percent in 1996.

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, who lobbied for gay marriage before becoming a lawmaker himself, recalled that years ago he asked a sitting lawmaker if he would consider supporting same-sex marriage. "He said, 'I'll pour gasoline on my head and light myself on fire before that bill passes,'" Ferri recalled.

That has changed, said Ferri, who is gay. Ferri said he hopes House Speaker Gordon Fox — who is gay — can marry him and his partner on Aug. 1, the day the new law takes effect, which also happens to be the couple's 32nd anniversary.

"Today a dream has come true," he said. "No more hiding in the shadows. No more being ashamed of who we are."

 

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