US: Rhode Island Senate to vote on equal marriage bill
The Senate in the US state of Rhode Island is to vote on a bill to legalise equal marriage on Wednesday afternoon.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and the bill, which passed easily in the House in January, will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.
The committee voted 7-4 on Tuesday to pass the bill.
The five Republicans in the Rhode Island Senate have already said that they are backing equal marriage.
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.
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Yesterday, the House in the US state of Delaware passed a bill to legalise equal marriage, taking the state one step closer to legalising same-sex marriage. The legislation passed today by 23 votes to 18.
As with the Delaware legislation, the Rhode Island bill has specific protections for religious institutions, stating that they will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages, if it goes against their beliefs.
The US Supreme Court recently heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. During the hearing, the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban.
A decision by the Supreme Court is expected in both cases by the end of June.