Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox voiced his plans to hold a gay marriage vote by the end of January. Fox dropped similar legislation in 2011 when faced with opposition from the state senate. The Rhode Island House Speaker, who is openly gay, feels it is now time for his state to join the same-sex marriage movement which has already been successful in much of New England.
Gordon Fox was joined by his partner, Marcus LaFond, when he took the Rhode Island House Speaker oath of office, WPRI reports. Fox had this to say about gay marriage at the opening of the 2013 state legislative session:
“Rhode Island must be next in enacting this basic civil right to marry the one you love.”
Lead sponsor of the Rhode Island gay marriage bill, Representative Arthur Handy, stated that the legislation will be introduced on Thursday. Handy, who is a Democrat, noted that the bill is already drafted and is gathering signatures from co-sponsors, according to the Providence Journal.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed reportedly remains in staunch opposition to a same-sex marriage bill. Although considered an opponent to Gordon Fox’s gay marriage movement, Weed did state during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that she will allow a vote on the bill if it passes the House.
The Rhode Island gay marriage bill will reportedly include measures granting protection to religious groups if an objection to same-sex marriage is raised based upon church beliefs. Past versions of the state’s attempts to pass a gay marriage amendment also reportedly included such religious protection language.