Gay marriage bills introduced in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- Two state lawmakers formally introduced bills Thursday afternoon to legalize gay marriage in Rhode Island.

The House bill's sponsor, Rep. Arthur Handy, said that he's confident it will pass this time around.

"We are long overdue. Rhode Island, the colony founded on the principle of personal liberty, is now the only New England state that doesn't allow same-gender couples equal marriage," he said in a statement. "Rhode Islanders recognize that same-gender couples deserve the rights and responsibilities that other couples already enjoy, and support has been getting wider every year."

Back in April 2011, House Speaker Gordon Fox elected to not move forward with gay marriage legislation, as he didn't believe it would pass during that year's session. He instead opted to back the civil unions legislation, which was signed into a law in July of 2011.

Earlier this week, Speaker Fox said he wanted a vote on the matter by Jan. 31.

Sen. Donna Nesselbush introduced similar legislation to the Senate Thursday. The second-term senator is openly gay, and said in a statement that the issue is "intensely personal" to her.

42 state representatives signed as co-sponsors of the bill, and it will now move to the House Judiciary Committee.

Handy said he hopes there will be a hearing on the measure in the next couple of weeks.

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Rhode Island (change)

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the first independent in his position, has his work cut out for him: fix the state's finances and help 66,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders get back to work.
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Governor: Lincoln Chafee
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