The rumbling train that is marriage equality went into overdrive today. As France passed its mariage equality bill, so did a Senate committee in Rhode Island. Think Progress reports:
Just now, the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance marriage equality with a vote of 7-4. The bill is identical to one that already passed the House. A second bill under consideration that would have allowed a referendum to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry failed 5-6. It now advances to the full Senate for consideration. (UPDATE: That full Senate vote will be Wednesday.)
In a surprise move, the entire GOP caucus in the Rhode Island Senate threw their support behind the bill. LGBTQ Nation reports:
We support Senate Bill 38 because it rightfully extends the civil aspects of marriage to all Rhode Islanders while protecting the freedom of religion our state was founded upon. Gay and lesbian couples deserve to be treated equally under the law, and at the same time churches, synagogues and mosques in our state must be free to exercise their faith and their sacraments as they see fit. This bill strikes the right balance and should be passed by the Senate. We recognize that there is a national consensus building on this generational issue, and we are glad that support for the freedom to marry is growing within the Republican Party. Today we join the 209 other Republican state legislators across America who have stood up for the freedom to marry. As a united Senate Republican Caucus, we are proud to add our voices to reaffirm the principles of freedom and equality under the law.
The full Senate is scheduled to take up the bill for a vote tomorrow. Keen News Service reports:
The Rhode Island Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday (April 24) on a marriage equality bill that, if passed, will position the state just days away from becoming the tenth state to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. The full Senate debated was scheduled Tuesday after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7 to 4 to advance a marriage equality bill. Because the bill passed in the Senate committee is not the same as the bill that passed the Rhode Island House in January on a strong 51 to 19 vote. Openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox told the Providence Journal he believes the Senate version of the bill would pass the House and be on the governor’s desk next week.
Some reports say the bill is the same as the one passed in the house; others say it was amended… we’ll see when the smoke clears.