Metro

Senate will vote on same-sex marriage in April

Teresa Paiva Weed, senate president, is ‘confident’ a vote will occur this month

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Rhode Island Senate will vote on same-sex marriage legislation before the end of April, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport and Jamestown, told the Providence Journal Monday.

“I feel very confident that the issue will be fully debated on the floor of the Senate at some point in April,” she told the Journal, adding that it could be “as soon as the week of April 21.”

Though she is personally opposed to same-sex marriage legalization and has in the past attempted to block Senate review of similar legislation, Paiva Weed has said that she would not stop the Senate from voting on the issue.

The bill in question would legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island while also instituting provisions that allow religiously affiliated individuals  to abstain from solemnizing marriages on the basis of religious grounds.

The bill was introduced in January and was reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the first time the committee has heard such legislation.

The hearing consisted of 12 hours of emotional testimony in support of and against same-sex marriage, The Herald previously reported. Many of the arguments against same-sex marriage were religious, while those in favor of legalization argued the bill would grant important equal rights.

The House version of the bill passed Jan. 24 by a vote of 51 to 19. Fifty House Democrats and one House Republican voted in favor of the bill. Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 has previously said he would sign the bill into law if it passes both the House and the Senate.

Over 60 percent of Rhode Islanders support the legalization of same-sex marriage, according to a February Taubman Center poll, and 91 percent of Brown students strongly or somewhat favor legalization of same-sex marriage, according to The Herald’s spring poll.