Several things, according to PBS. There’s this:
Unlike in New York, where Democrats worked for months to peel off a handful of conservatives in the Republican-controlled Senate, proponents must convince Rhode Island’s Senate Democrats to move forward with the bill. Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Michael McCaffrey are all Democrats. And all oppose gay marriage.
Another factor complicating Rhode Island’s gay marriage campaign is the looming prospect of a Supreme Court decision… “If the court said that the 14th Amendment does prohibit California from defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then other state laws would certainly be at risk, other than just California.”…For Rhode Island senators, why cast a potentially politically troublesome vote now when the Supreme Court might simplify the issue for you in the summer?
One bright spot – the Senate President does continue to promise to bring the bill to the Senate floor:
And although it could be months before the Senate even addresses the bill, Paiva-Weed said, “The debate and the discussion in the Senate will be very real, and neither I nor anybody else … really knows what the final outcome of that will be.”
The only question now is when.