Bills legalizing same-sex marriage were introduced in both the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Rhode Island Senate yesterday. The bills were introduced into their respective chambers of the General Assembly by Representative Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18 Cranston) and Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Dist.15 Pawtucket, North Providence).
According to the press released by the Rhode Island State House, the legislation has 42 sponsors in the house and 11 sponsors in the senate. It stated that “The legislation has broad support, with 42 members of the House signing on as sponsors and 11 members of the Senate.”
The introduction of the legislation into the Rhode Island House of Representatives by Representative Handy marks the 11th time that he has introduced the bill for consideration by the representatives.
In 2011, Rhode Island passed legislation allowing for civil unions between same-sex couples. This legislation has not been taken advantage of by couples. Since it passage, only 68 civil union licenses have been issued by the state.
Economic benefit to legalization
Amongst the legislation’s supporters is the governor. Governor Lincoln Chaffee believes that legalization of same-sex marriage in the state will help bolster the ailing economy. Bill Rappleye from NBC 10 reported that the governor believes that it will induce companies to do business in Rhode Island because all of their employees will feel welcomed in the state.
It has not been announced when the vote will happen at the state house but it the issue is likely to be decided during this year’s session. If Rhode Island legalizes same-sex marriage, it will be the 10th state in the union where it is legal along with the District of Columbia.