Rhode Island is officially the tenth state (in addition to the District of Columbia) that has legalized gay marriage.
This has been a 20-year struggle between gay rights advocates and the heavy Catholic population of the state. After a series of small victories that include the election of more legislators who support gay rights and legalized civil unions, same sex couples can now have legally recognized marriages.
The bill was first passed in January, which got massive amounts of support from House Speaker Gordon Fox who is gay himself. It was then given to the senate for approval, and despite facing challenges from many officials it was passed at the beginning of last week after the Senate President of Rhode Island Teresa Paiva Weed allowed members to vote on the issue even though she has personal oppositions to gay marriage.
Final approval was given by the house Thursday and was then signed by the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee that same evening. Marriages between same-sex couples could start as soon as August 1st of this year when the bill is set to go into effect.
Hundreds of people swarmed to the Rhode Island Statehouse in celebration of the new law and even though same-sex couples will no longer to be able to get civil unions, existing ones will still be recognized for those couples who do not wish to get married just yet.
The prominence of gay rights advocacy has been growing at a rapid rate and has consistently been in the news. France recently legalized gay marriage and us in the United States are waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA and California’s Prop 8, which are rumored to be released in late May or June. Same-sex couples are demanding equality and will not back down until they are given the rights that they deserve.