Today was a historic day in Rhode Island for gay and lesbian couples who have been fighting for the freedom to marry for nearly two decades.
In what was only a procedural vote today in the Rhode Island House of Representatives led by openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox. – the house passed marriage equality legislation into law in a vote of 56-15.
House debate on marriage equality lasted for over an hour and a half and the gallery erupted with excitement and tears following the vote!
Following the vote today Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee a republican turned independent is signing the bill at 5:45PM outside on the state house lawn with hundreds of supporters of marriage equality.
“I am overwhelmed with joy; this is a terrific day for Rhode Island and for my family. My wife Patty and I are happy the commitment that my wife and I share is finally recognized here in RI and we can raise our son Tobin in a state that values our family,” said Martha Holt Castle of North Kingstown and a member of the Marriage Equality Rhode Island Board of Directors. Martha and her wife were married 5 years ago in Massachusetts which has had marriage equality since 2004.
This campaign was won with a broad based coalition – Rhode Islanders United for Marriage - which included Ocean State Action as one of their partners.
Ocean State Action Organizing Director Kristina Fox in an interview with Bay Windows at the state house said “today is a historic and incredible day and we're proud to be a part of this incredible victory. This is a long time coming; this wasn't one person or one organization. This was an incredible broad based coalition. Through everyone’s tireless efforts we were able to win this tremendous victory - there are not enough words to really describe how happy we’re. “
This was a historic day for so many loving and committed same sex couples in Rhode Island.
I’m happy that it finally passed. It has been a long time coming. Now, all of the New England states have marriage equality. I am very very happy,” said Kelly Garrett of Providence.
Gay and Lesbian couples will be able to get married beginning August 1, 2013 which is when marriage equality becomes law. At that point any couples who have a civil union will be able to go to their city or town clerk and turn their civil union into a marriage. If they do not then there union will remain as is; however, the state will stop issuing civil unions.
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