Marriage equality sweeps New England as Gov. Chafee signs Rhode Island bill into law

ri_403x403Congrats, Rhode Island! The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds today’s state House passage of the marriage equality bill by a 56-15 vote. Gov. Lincoln Chafee immediately signed the measure into law. In a New York Times op-ed, he talked about why he was signing this measure,  stating in part:

I hope that leaders in capitals across the country — including Washington — will soon realize that marriage equality is an issue where doing the right thing and the smart thing are one and the same.

Rhode Island joins nine other states and the District of Columbia in having marriage equality. The law takes effect on Aug. 1. A similar measure passed the House in January, but the bill needed today’s vote because of small changes made when the Senate passed the bill last week with a 26-12 vote. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force provided leadership development and legislative lobby training to Rhode Islanders United for Marriage field staff.

Last week, following the Senate passage (when it was clear the bill would ultimately become law) the Task Force’s Rea Carey said:

The momentum for the freedom to marry is undeniable, as we see yet again with this victory in Rhode Island. Marriage equality has now swept through all of New England, and we are thrilled for the couples and families in Rhode Island who will soon be able to share in the responsibilities and celebration of marriage without having to cross state lines.

We congratulate Rhode Islanders United for Marriage and all those working so hard to secure the freedom to marry for Rhode Islanders. We are proud to stand with them in this effort. This has been a journey of changing hearts and minds, of personal and poignant conversations about why marriage matters, of shining a spotlight on our common humanity. The transformative nature of people talking about their love and their lives is clear, as we see with this victory in Rhode Island, and in the fact that a clear and ever-growing majority of Americans supports marriage equality.

We rejoice in this moment and continue to press forward to the day when loving, committed same-sex couples in every state have the freedom to marry.