Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill, 7-4

A Senate vote may take place as early as Wednesday.


Rhode Island took one step closer to the legalization of same-sex marriage on Tuesday following Judiciary Committee passage of a bill that would allow gay couples to marry in the state.

With little debate, the 10-member Senate committee, which includes Sen. Lou Raptakis of Coventry, voted 7-4 to pass the amended Senate Bill 38 (S38), sponsored by Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket). The bill defines marriage as "the legally recognized union" of two people, regardless of gender.

The seven Committee members who voted in favor of the bill include Sens. Stephen Archambault, William Conley, Dawson Hodgson, Paul Jabour, Erin Lynch, Nesselbush and Raptakis. Committee Chairman Mike McCaffrey, Sens. Frank Lombardi and Harold Metts, and Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, who used his optional right to vote ex officio, cast votes against.

The Judiciary Committee's decision will now send the bill to the Senate floor for a vote by all 38 senators. The vote could take place as soon as Wednesday, according to Senate spokesman Greg Pare.

“This is an incredible and historic step forward in the campaign to ensure all loving, committed couples in Rhode Island have the freedom to marry,” said Ray Sullivan, campaign director of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage. “We are pleased and proud that the members of the Judiciary Committee were so receptive to the thousands of their constituents who reached out and urged them to vote yes on Sen. Nesselbush’s bill. We will continue to connect the supermajority of Rhode Islanders who support marriage equality with their senators before a floor vote, and believe we have the momentum to achieve victory on this critical issue.”

The committee also voted 6-5 to reject Sen. Frank Ciccone's bill, which would order a voter referendum on the issue in 2014, in addition to several exemptions deemed "discriminatory" by many. (On March 19, , citing feedback from their constituents as the reasoning behind the decision.)

“Members of the committee heard from their constituents in strong opposition to putting fundamental rights on the ballot, and we thank them for defeating this divisive and harmful referendum bill," said Sullivan.

If S38 is approved by the full Senate, it will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee next week. If approved there, as well as by the full House, the final stop for the Senate version of the bill would be the office of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, possibly by the end of next week, according to House officials.

“I am elated that Senate Bill 28 has been voted out of committee, headed for a full debate and vote on the Senate floor," said Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts. "Our family members and friends, neighbors and co-workers deserve to be treated fairly and protected equally under the law, and this vote marks the beginning of the final steps in our journey as a state toward extending true marriage equality to all Rhode Islanders."

speaker April 23, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Once again the real issues were put on the back burner. City & Towns financial issues, the states economy, business ready & friendly, crime, illegals sucking the tax payers dry, teachers, police & fire unions need to make changes such as the state employees. Business closing & leaving the state. Politicians now acting like the Governor, protecting a murder, holiday tree, his drunken child,etc. Everyone needs to take a look at the bills your politicians are putting together, pure garbage ! Rhode Island is now the island of NO HOPE !
Lauren Costa (Editor) April 23, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I guess if you were gay, you might feel differently about whether or not same-sex marriage is a "real issue"...or I could be completely wrong and even if you are gay, you're not interested in marriage. I'm not arguing against your other points at all - I completely agree that there are many many problems in RI that need to be rectified, but I'm sure that all of them, including marriage equality, are considered real issues to someone.
Starship Trooper April 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Lauren there are more important issues then the one that has taken the forefront . I think that was speaker's point.
taxer April 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Lauren, what will they push on my children in school now, if it has anything to do with this topic it will be against my religious rights, there will be a law suits. If some is gay that is their right, I wish them the best, but don't force this sinful behavior into the classroom. There are more important agenda that effect every family in the state and country, illegals, and the NObama agenda, socialism!
mad hatter April 24, 2013 at 01:15 PM
we have bigger fish to fry. calamari and circus elephant protection show that the GA wants no part in fixing the states problems. the entire state will look like central falls within 15 years.
Leave RI April 24, 2013 at 01:22 PM
These darn elephants should protect themselves with proper gear.. http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/funny_elephant_photoshop.jpg
mad hatter April 24, 2013 at 01:45 PM
the guy with the bull hook must be hiding behind the skateboard... eating a plate of calamari.
rjle April 24, 2013 at 04:25 PM
OMG again just leave it up to the voters in the state . Cant do that I forgot its RI
Sandy Lukowicz April 24, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Seeing that Mr. Raptakis can't make up his mind about the gay vote.......I've decided to make up my mind and NOT vote for him in the next election. Don't we have enough DRAMA in the Legislature without more drama from from you Mr. Raptakis? Your game playing is over the top as usual!!!!!!
James Crowley April 25, 2013 at 07:26 AM
Taxer, I'm not sure I understand what you're afraid of. What does gay marriage have to do with your children's education?


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