(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
The state of Rhode Island has become the tenth state in the United States and the last state in New England to legalize same-sex marriage after Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the bill Thursday.
Rick Jacobs, founder of the progressive advocacy group CourageCampaign.org, said in a statement that the Rhode Island bill represents one of many successes in recent months. "Across the country we are seeing rapid and historic shifts towards equality and freedom for all. With 10 states down, and 40 to go, Rhode Island is leading the way into the double-digits of states that support marriage equality," said Jacobs.
Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in recognizing same-sex marriage.
Whereas Iowa and Massachusetts legalized gay marriage via judicial fiat, the other states and District of Columbia did so through the Legislature, and in the case of Maine, Maryland, and Washington, had the results confirmed through popular referendum.
The two bills that led Rhode Island were House Bill 5015 and Senate Bill 38, both of which passed with bipartisan support.
While supporters for same-sex marriage laud the news, opponents denounce the bill both for legalizing same-sex marriage and for allegedly lacking sufficient protection for religious liberty. Christopher Plante, regional director for the National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island chapter, said in a statement that the passage of the bill into law was a "short-sighted policy that fails to take into account the rights and needs of the generations to come."
"Children deserve to know and be cared for by a mom and dad…This law will intentionally deny children one or the other," said Plante. "The full impact may not be seen next week or next year, but our children will be the ones who pay the price for this decision."
Plante also felt that because the bill lacked "robust legal protections" for religious groups that consider homosexuality a sin, "we're likely to see a raft of lawsuits and governmental action such as license revocations, fines and denial of governmental contracts to these faith-based groups and individuals."