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Marriage Equality Bill to Be Introduced Today in Rhode Island

Hot on the heels of Governor Lincoln Chafee's call for marriage equality in the state, a bill will be re-introduced in the Rhode Island House to legalize same-sex marriage there, and they plan to move it quickly, the Providence Journal reports:

Handy In a brief interview on Wednesday, Rep. Arthur Handy (pictured), D-Cranston, said he had already lined up 27 co-sponsors and was hoping for more, but would introduce the bill no matter what the number on Thursday in hopes of spurring an early-session hearing and vote on the measure.

Besides Handy, the other lead sponsors include Representatives Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, Edith Ajello, D-Providence, Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, and the openly gay House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, who had said in the days leading up to the start of the 2011 General Assembly session that he hoped for a House vote on same-sex marriage early in the session, before the lawmakers get wrapped up in the budget and other issues.

“I would like it done earlier than later, only because later you get into budget issues and your focus sort of changes,” Fox said.

Ri The bill's language:

It says: “Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements [in law] may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.” It also says: “No person shall marry” a long list of relatives, including a parent, grandparent, sibling or child of a sibling, and makes clear that no religious institution would be required to perform a civil marriage if it conflicted with its teachings.

A Democrat, Rep. Jon Brien of Woonsocket, is already planning to counter the bill with legislation that would require a public referendum on the issue.

The bill's chances in the state senate are not yet clear at this point, but certainly better than when gay-hating Governor Donald Carcieri was in power, with a veto threat waiting.

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