Rhode Island House of Representatives passes marriage bill with large majority

Today, the House of Representatives in Rhode Island voted on HB 5015, the bill that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples - and by a vote of 51 to 19, the members of the House approved it!

The movement comes just over a week after the House Judiciary Committee became the first legislative body in the history of Rhode Island to advance a marriage bill after hearing extensive testimony during a hearing. Now, the bill will be considered by the state senate. We'll be providing you with information in the coming days with how to contact your Senator and ask them to stand on the Right Side of History. 

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, the coalition working to win marriage in Rhode Island, has been hard at work speaking with Rhode Islanders and urging people to contact their representative and explain why the freedom to marry is so important. Freedom to Marry is proud to serve as a founding and leading member of the Rhode Islanders United for Marriage coalition.

Ray Sullivan, the campaign manager for RI United, released a statement applauding the news. He said:

Today is a proud and historic day. For the first time, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has affirmed that all families in our state should have access to the unique protection and recognition that only civil marriage provides. There is incredible momentum behind this movement - first a unanimous Judiciary Committee vote, and now two-thirds of members, Republicans and Democrats, stood in support of marriage equality.  

Today's vote came after nearly two hours of discussion from state representatives, many of whom spoke out with passion and excitement about why marriage matters in Rhode Island.

Rep. McNamara explained that the United States is a nation founded on the principle of equality, and that same-sex couples need that same equality. "I am proud to stand here in support of this legislation, the representative said. "Passage of this legislation would reconfirm the words of our founding fathers relating to equality for all people. This is really about family equality - that family deserves equal rights under our constitution."

Rep. Edwards spoke from his experience as a married man. He said, "As a Catholic who has been married for 30 years to my wife Donna, I know this legislation will have no impact at all on my marriage. Your grandchildren someday will ask you how you voted. Hopefully you can say the right thing."

Openl gay Rep. Frank Ferri also spoke out about why the marriage bill is so important. He said, "This is an exceptional moment. This is an exceptional time." He referenced his own partner of 32 years, saying, "You can define marriage any way you want - we've had a marriage for 32 years."

Moments after the bill passed in the House, RI Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who has been a firm supporter of the freedom to marry, tweeted, "Certain votes can be characterized as 'historic.' RI House's overwhelming passage of marriage equality is one such vote." 

You can learn more about how to get involved in the Rhode Island campaign HERE, or check out Rhode Islanders United for Marriage HERE.