House Speaker says Rhode Island will vote on marriage in 2013

This morning, Gordon Fox, the Speaker of the House in Rhode Island, said that he plans to bring the freedom to marry to a vote in the state House of Representative in 2013.

Rhode Island currently offers civil unions for same-sex couples, and in May, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order to allow Rhode Island to recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples. Passing the freedom to marry in the state would be the culmination of the state's years of small steps toward full marriage protections for all couples.

Fox spoke with WRPI 12 this morning. He announced his plan on air, saying:

I'm calling the vote. It's one of those issues that I need to come back, we need to address, and I intend if I'm elected speaker to address it early. It's one of the main reasons I'm coming back. There's unfinished business.

Earlier this week, Fox announced that he would be seeking another term as Speaker of the House. The Democrat was elected in 1992 and became speaker in 2010.

Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a state-level group supporting the freedom to marry, praised the decision, with the organization's campaign director Ray Sullivan saying, "Every day, we strive to make 2013 the year in which all loving, committed couples are finally recognized, respected and treated equally under the law."

Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director, Marc Solomon, also championed the news. He said:

With overwhelming public support and surrounded by freedom to marry states, Rhode Island is past due for a freedom to marry law. We appreciate Speaker Gordon Fox's commitment to moving marriage legislation in 2013, and look forward to working closely with Marriage Equality Rhode Island, Speaker Fox, Governor Chafee, and other allies to secure passage of a bill early next year. Combined with a victory at the ballot in Maine this November, passing this bill will enable all loving and committed couples to share in the freedom to marry throughout New England. 

Freedom to Marry thanks Rep. Fox for his advocacy and will continue to work with Rhode Island state organizations until the day that all couples have the freedom to marry in the state.