By a vote of 51-18 (or 19, the Speaker announced 18 on the livestream), almost 75% of the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted to bring Rhode Island in line with its neighbors, the rest of New England, and four other US states, by voting for marriage equality.
Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island's governor, says he will sign the legislation. All that's left is for the Rhode Island Senate to pass it and send it to the Governor. So yeah! Right?
Not so fast. The chair of the Rhode Island Senate's Judiciary Committee says that the bill won't even be heard until some time this spring. The chair is an adamant opponent of marriage equality, and so is the President of the Senate, Theresa Paiva-Weed.
"And just this week Paiva Weed’s powerful No. 2, Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, co-sponsored a constitutional amendment [pdf] to ban same-sex marriage being pushed by influential Providence Sen. Frank Ciccone, another Democrat."If it's possible at all, it will take mass action and enormous pressure to pass marriage equality through the Rhode Island Senate this year. In a state that favors it by a huge majority and in a legislature which is overwhelmingly Democratic.
British Culture Secretary Maria Miller on Thursday formally introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. The BBC reported that the House of Commons is scheduled to consider the measure on Feb. 5.Since every major party in Parliament favors the bill it is expected to pass. Each member will be given a 'conscience vote' though, making the vote closer than one might think given that every party line is supportive of the bill.
Scottish lawmakers are expected to consider a same-sex marriage proposal later this year, while French legislators are scheduled to begin debate on the issue on Tuesday.
3:49 PM PT: Another dinosaur speaks:
Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Corvese (D-North Providence) is among those who spoke against the bill. He described the measure as “an irrevocable societal game-changer” that would redefine the definition of marriage.
“Gay marriage is not about civil rights,” Corvese said. “Gay marriage defies common sense.”