The five Republicans in the Rhode Island Senate are backing equal marriage as a legislative committee prepares for a pivotal vote on the issue.

The Senate Republican Caucus has announced that its members will support legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.

While the Republican caucus only holds five of the Senate’s 38 seats, its backing is another indication of the growing support for marriage equality in Rhode Island.

It is now the only New England state not to have implemented equal marriage rights for gay couples.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will decide on Tuesday whether to forward the measure to the full Senate for a debate.

Meanwhile later today, the House of Representatives in the US state of Delaware will vote on an equal marriage bill, which, if approved, will then go to the state Senate.

France has become the 14th nation in the world to legalise equal marriage after its National Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday afternoon.