American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

States to Watch: Marriage Equality Legislation in Rhode Island

AFER is making the case for full federal marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, but there are several states which may see movement before a June 2013 decision. See more states to watch >

Marriage equality bills were introduced in the Rhode Island Senate and the House on January 3, 2013. After an unexpected defeat in 2011, a marriage equality bill is poised for passage this year.

This has been a long time coming—it was in November of 2008 that Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders launched their “Six by Twelve” campaign. The goal was to gain marriage equality in all six new England states by the end of 2012. We’ve missed that deadline, but it might only be a few more months before Rhode Island joins its five neighbors and completes GLAD’s 2008 plan.

We might actually have reached the 2012 goal if not for a few reluctant Democrats. That included Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who opposed the freedom to marry and resisted holding a floor vote. Eventually lawmakers dropped the marriage bill and opted instead for civil unions.

But now the marriage bill is back and Weed says that there will indeed be a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee this year.

Meanwhile, public support is strongly in favor of marriage equality. The most recent survey, conducted two years ago, showed 50% of voters supported marriage and only 41% were opposed. Given that national public opinion has dramatically shifted in the last two years, we can expect those numbers of support to be even higher now.

What You Can Do

If you live in Rhode Island, contact your legislator. You can also get involved with Marriage Equality Rhode Island.