Rhode Island set to be 10th state to legalize gay marriage
In the march to marriage equality betwwen hetrosexuals and people with other sexual preferences in the United States, Rhode Island aims to become the 10th state to allow couples in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transvestite community to marry.
Legislation that will let same-sex couples wed was passed among state lawmakers Wednesday night by the margin of 26-12.
The state Senate's vote hands the bill back to the House where a version of the intended law has already passed.
When the House likely votes in favor of the bill again through a procedural measure, the bill will go to Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
The independent executive leader has already promised to sign the bill into law, thereby placing the number of states to endorse same-sex marriage in the double digits.
Currently, nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow gay marriage. Rhode Island will also be the sixth and final New England state to legalize the institution.
Cheers erupted in the statehouse with the Senate's passage. Viewed as a greater hurdle than the House vote, the Senate's passage marks a major milestone for the predominantly Catholic state, which has seen same-sex legislation sit parked on legislative agendas for years.
The governor called the vote historic.
"I'm very much looking forward to signing this," Chafee said to The Associated Press while celebrating the passage.
Not all have been as enthusiastic. Hundreds of opponents gathered outside the statehouse to protest the vote with signs and religious hymns. Rev. David Rodriguez, a Providence minister, expressed severe disappointment with the vote.
"Marriage between a man and a woman is what God wanted," he said to ABC News. "We will continue to do what we know how to do…Keep praying and preaching."
The Roman Catholic Church also represented one of the bill's staunchest opponents. Many state senators, who are practicing Catholics, described a personal struggle in voting on the bill.
Same-sex marriages could go into effect as early as Aug. 1.
When that happens, civil unions, which Rhode Island legalized two years ago, will be discontinued.