A bill to allow gay couples to marry is to be re-introduced today.

Democrat representative Arthur Handy told The Providence Journal he has secured the support of 27 so-sponsors and expects to sign up more.

Gay marriage bills have failed in Rhode Island repeatedly in recent years, but the state has a new, supportive governor.

Lincoln Chafee, a Republican turned independent, was sworn in on Tuesday and used his inauguration speech to call for marriage equality.

“When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honour our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in the pursuit of human equality,” he said.

A 2009 poll found that 60 per cent of the Rhode Island public were in favour of allowing gay couples to marry.