Rhode Island House passes gay marriage bill


Maira Garcia (R) and Maria Vargas wait on line to get married at the Brooklyn City Clerk's office in New York City in July. Washington's state Senate cleared its same-sex marriage bill Wednesday night, which is expected to pass in the House as early as next week. Washington will be the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.


Mario Tama

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a gay marriage bill after an emotional debate. The legislation passed 51-19, the Associated Press reported.

The bill is significant because Rhode Island is New England’s last holdout for same-sex marriage.

If passed, it will allow gay and lesbian couples to get married. The state's Senate must still pass the measure and it is unclear whether legislators have the votes to win, AP wrote.

The state is heavily Catholic and the bill has come up against resistance from conservatives and some religious leaders.

"This has been a long journey," said House Speaker Gordon Fox. "Today is a great day. Today ... we stand for equality, we stand for justice."

As ABC News noted, gay marriage is gaining momentum nationally.

In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama set an ambitious agenda for his next term which prominently featured gay rights “becoming the first president in modern history to talk about gay rights in an inaugural speech," ABC News reported.

Currently in the US, nine states along with Washington's District of Columbia have passed gay marriage initiatives, according to the AP.