PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island has become the nation’s 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, after a 16-year effort to extend marriage rights in this heavily Roman Catholic state.
Gays, lesbians, their friends and families erupted into cheers Thursday following a final 56-15 vote in the Rhode Island House, and then again an hour later when Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps.
Democracy feels good, doesn’t it?” said House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, who is gay. Fox struggled to keep his composure as he addressed the crowd at the Statehouse, looking over at his longtime partner, Marcus LaFond. “This tells me our relationship does matter. It means that we mean something.”
The first marriages will take place Aug. 1, when the new law takes effect.
The day was bittersweet for Deborah Tevyaw, whose wife, state corrections officer Pat Baker, succumbed to lung cancer two years ago. Months before she died, Baker, relying on an oxygen tank, angrily told lawmakers that it was unfair that Tevyaw wasn’t considered her wife in Rhode Island despite their marriage in Massachusetts.
Read More at OfficialWire . By David Klepper.