Marriage momentum continues with bills introduced in Rhode Island and Illinois

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

After Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a marriage equality bill into law in Washington state, momentum for marriage is growing.

In Rhode Island, State Rep. Art Handy and State Sen. Rhoda Perry are expected to introduce a marriage bill to replace an unpopular civil union law that passed last year.

Rhode Island’s Rep. David Cicciline is one of four openly gay members of Congress. The speaker of the Rhode Island House, Gordon Fox, is gay. And Gov. Lincoln Chaffee said he would sign a marriage bill if it passed.

Last year, Illinois passed relationship recognition. This week, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. Backers of the bill said that the civil union law that is in effect leaves out some important rights.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who signed the Freedom to Marry pledge at the national mayor’s conference, said he will back marriage equality in Illinois.

In New Jersey, a marriage equality bill passed the Senate this week and was headed to the Assembly. Gov. Chris Christie has said he would veto the bill, and that the issue should be decided voters. According to polls, a majority of people in New Jersey support marriage equality. Meanwhile, in Maryland, the governor testified before two legislative committees last week in favor of a marriage equality bill.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signed on to Freedom to Marry petition calling on the Democratic Party to add marriage equality to its party platform.

—  David Taffet

Rhode Island House to debate same-sex marriage

Gordon D. Fox

The speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Gordon D. Fox, he is doing everything he can to move a marriage equality bill forward, according to the Providence Journal. Fox is openly gay.

Rhode Island’s new governor, Lincoln Chaffee, is an independent. He replaced a Republican governor who did not support a same-sex marriage bill. Chaffee supports passage of marriage equality in the state.

Currently, Rhode Island recognizes marriage performed elsewhere but does not issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Fox said there is strong support for the bill in the House but passage in the Senate was not certain.

The bill would recognize “civil marriage” between persons of the same sex.

—  David Taffet