Rhode Island Approves Marriage Equality After 26-12 Senate Vote


Rhode Island has approved marriage equality in a 26-12 Senate vote.

The Rhode Island House passed the bill in January in a 51-19 vote. It must get another, largely procedural, vote there.

Governor Lincoln Chafee will sign the bill.

Rhode Island will be the 10th U.S. state to allow gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry, and every state in New England is now a marriage equality state!

Once signed, the bill should take effect in August.

ChafeeUPDATE: Chafee released the following statement

I am always proud to be a Rhode Islander, but never more so than today.

After yesterday’s Judiciary Committee vote, I expressed my hope that the full Rhode Island Senate would pass a bill that chooses tolerance and fairness over division and discrimination. In passing the Marriage Equality Act, they have done just that.

I thank the Senators who have taken a stand to move Rhode Island forward and commend the Senate President for calling the roll. Great credit should go to Ray Sullivan, everyone at Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, and the countless volunteers who knocked on doors and participated in phone banks. Finally, I want to applaud the pioneers, such as the late Julie Pell, who for decades have fought for the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders. This day would not have been possible without their efforts.

Pending the final vote by the House of Representatives, Rhode Island will no longer be an outlier in our region. We will have the welcome mat out. We will be open for business, and we will once again affirm our legacy as a place that is tolerant and appreciative of diversity.


  1. juan says

    Living and growing up here in RI i’m so excited. I always dreamt of getting married and now I can in my home state ^_^

  2. Jonty Coppersmith says

    Not so fast. This still has to go back to the house to be revoted because of differences between the house and senate versions. Should be a formality, but it isn’t a done deal yet.

  3. Mary says

    Now all of New England has marriage equality. An entire region. Glad I switched sides. If I was still an opponent, I’d be pulling my hair out about now. How long can groups like NOM still remain in business? This issue isn’t a done deal nationally yet, but it’s fast approaching that point.

  4. David in the O.C. says

    Finally made it into double digits! :o)
    I hope Brian Brown is choking on his bile.

  5. Francis #1 says

    The Senate arguments were so profound and amazing to hear. There were several questionable/No votes that came to our side and did so because they heard our stories, felt our pain that comes with being unequal and understood their fears regarding equality were unfounded.

    This vote also goes to show just how WIDE the cultural divide in this country is. At least half the states in the US have no shot of seeing equality in the near future. The entire South, Mountain West and much of the Midwest. Even in states like Illinois and Minnesota that are a bit less conservative than others, are struggling to find votes for equality and may not even have votes this year. I feel really bad for LGBTQ citizens in these states.

    The fight isn’t over, but we’re making headway every single day.

  6. Francis #1 says

    Mary, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona have just reaffirmed state views against marriage equality. This fight is far from over. Especially if SCOTUS doesn’t do the right thing by us in June. We should get states like Delaware and New Jersey in the very near future but throughout the South/Mountain West/Southwest (bar New Mexico) and much of the Midwest, it’s a pipe dream for at least a few more years.

    We have to keep fighting and fight we will, but today and this week is a week to celebrate. Historic day, historic week and historic year.

  7. Zlick says

    So now all 7 gay people in Rhode Island can get married?

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist. This is awesome. Congrats, RI.

  8. Craig Nelson says

    The entirety of New England! Now we just have to finish the job in Old England!

  9. bicurious says

    This is happening so frequently in states and other countries it almost doesn’t seem newsworthy. I love it!

  10. says

    Very happy to hear this news from my college state–welcome back to New England, RI.

    And, as Francis said, a number of senators changed their minds because their friends, neighbors, and constituents sat them down and talked one-on-one. Personals stories matter. A few zealous nuts gave their religious ramblings, but their inability to separate church and state, illogic and reason didn’t come close to ruling the day. They just seemed silly.

  11. simon says

    Is it possible for the wingnuts to challenge the decision with a referendum like in Maine?

  12. Bill S. says

    No, there is NO people’s veto or other such process in RI. Once signed by the Governor, it is LAW and a done deal.

  13. Steve says

    There are some more states like Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Mexico that are possible in the next few years. But after that people will soon run up against firm constitutional amendments in deeply red states and the equality train is going to come to a sudden stop.

  14. JONES says

    Congratulations Rhode Islanders.

    Equality in the US is still a huge uphill battle. That’s why the Prop 8 and DOMA SCOTUS rulings are so very important. Scalia, Thomas, & Alito are bought and sold anti-gay. We have to have hope that at least one (hopefully both) of Kennedy or Roberts look at the end results of their decisions as they pertain to civil rights.

  15. InLoveinOk says

    Please don’t forget about us in Oklahoma. While you all celebrate marriage wins in new england and western state, many of us in small towns across America fear you’ll completely forget about the rest of us in not so well connected states who are in love and ready to get married.

    I can only hope quality groups in states that have succeeded and won this battle will join forces and help us in smaller states! we see no hope in our future for marriage equality and our same sex relationships are just as worthy of equal rights.

  16. Scott Johansen says

    @ Steve

    Don’t be sure about that. The equality train won’t be coming to ANY stop any time soon. Know that. And know the LGBT community is way too galvanized to ever let that happen.

  17. Hugh says

    lol how foolish and ignorant. You really think our allies, our organizations, our grass roots efforts and our community will stop the equality train? This momentum is just starting and until gay people are treated with the exact rights and respect heterosexuals are afforded, we’ll keep taking our cause to the highest court of the land.

  18. says

    If the equality train were only about individual states, it might come to a sudden stop, but it’s not. There are the vital Supreme Court cases, and the tipping point if Section 3 of DOMA is ruled unconstitutional and marriage returns to CA and happens in big population states like IL and NJ. The dominoes will fall.

  19. Jackson says

    For the love of everything good….can someone PLEASE please tell me where I can find a list of the 12 senators who voted no? My whole family lives in Rhode Island and are very supportive of marriage equality, and for future reference…I’d like to know…but can’t find the info anywhere

    Thank you to anyone who can provide it

  20. Steve says

    The Supreme Court justices are a bunch of cowards and half of them are theocrats. They are not going to legislate for marriage equality everywhere until almost all states have done so. They pretty much said so during the Prop 8 trial. This isn’t the 60s when they were less political, less partisan and more willing to actually rule on the law than appease the mob. And even then interracial marriage was legal all over the western and northern states. Only 17 or so states banned it in 1967.

  21. says

    Few are expecting the Supreme Court to make a sweeping decision, but it will still be a huge deal if Section 3 of DOMA falls, which is expected, and a few more big states land in the equality column. Yes, it will be an uphill battle to get deep red states, but the momentum and national demographics aren’t going to stand still at this point, and they’re clearly on our side. The absurd patchwork of marriage laws across the US, once gay couples in some states have federal equality, is unsustainable. In other words, we have every reason to be optimistic.

  22. JONES says


    While I don’t live in RI I give you my vow to brotherhood that I will not stand by in silence so long as you or any other member of my communal family continue to be oppressed.

  23. says

    Congrats, Rhode Island! Like another poster said, personal stories of how love is love won over people’s hearts and minds. I guess that Harvey Milk’s words about coming out to force people to accept the gay community were right…

  24. Icebloo says

    Are you watching this you pathetic, back stabbing, spineless shi#head Democrats in Hawaii and Illinois ?

    GREAT NEWS for Rhode Island – now on to Delaware !

  25. Francis #1 says

    The equality train isn’t going to stop, but the fight to pass equality is going to get a lot tougher. Actually, starting about now, after/when/if Delaware passes equality. Christie is a major roadblock to passing equality in Jersey and he’s going nowhere and it’s still questionable if the votes are there to override a veto against a NO vote from him. Minnesota, Illinois are up in the air on equality this year (and it needs to pass this year over the debate in an election year), Iowa Republicans are mobilizing to put equality on the ballot to try to eliminate it. And we have no shot of equality throughout most Southern states, Mountain West states and throughout much of the Midwest, for at least a handful more years.

    This is why our fight ultimately will be decided in the courts, and regardless of what happens this June, there are going to be more court cases coming. There will be more litigation, and we will do everything necessary to have everything we deserve, marriage and everything else.

  26. simon says

    Has Brian Brown and his central committee released any statement yet? I haven’t seen it in the news. Is he going to spend his millions to outst the Repulicans there or just pack up and move to France.

  27. simon says

    It is kind of surprising. All the no votes were from Democrats. All the Republicans voted yes. Is it because it is Rhode Island?

  28. Chris says


    Yes and no… RI is the most Catholic state in the union (some surveys and such put us at about 50% Catholic) so we have some socially conservative members of our Democratic party here. The Republicans all correctly sided with marriage equality based on libertarian reasons, but also I think the fact that RI is a New England state made it easier for them.

    And cynically, it means they can use this when it’s re-election time in 2014 since marriage equality is so popular in RI. As you can tell from the fact that there are only 5 Republicans in the State Senate, the state GOP here is not that strong and could use popular postions to help bolster themselves in elections.

  29. simon says

    Thanks. You are right. That senator Meth. I have never seen even a Republican that crazy.

  30. mousemess says

    The beauty of marriage equality in Illinois is the sheer length of that state down through the middle of the Midwest from next to Wisconsin to next to Kentucky and Missouri.
    Delaware will likely vote yes to marriage equality likely this coming Tuesday. Next year NJ could convert from civil union to marriage equality. this year might hopefully see marriage equality in MN and IL. Marriage equality is almost 4 years old in Iowa but the Iowa Senate is majority Democrat by only one person and that’s all that stands between the GOP in the legislature and the residents of Iowa who want to keep marriage equality in Iowa. There are about 18 or so GOPers in the Iowa state legislature who want to kill IA marriage equality. So Iowa marriage equality must be carefully watched and protected. Mike Gronstal in the Iowa legislature is trying to protect the Iowa Senate Democrat majority as the Iowa GOP has plans for a bunch of crazy and terrible things for Iowa and one of those ugly GOP ideas is ridding IA of marriage equality.
    And IA’s current Governor Terry Branstad is a GOPer.