Arthur Handy; photo courtesy Rhode Island House of Representatives
R.I. Marriage Equality Bill to be Introduced Thursday

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com January 01 2013 7:28 PM ET

A marriage equality bill will be introduced in the Rhode Island legislature Thursday, the Providence Journal reports.

State representative Arthur Handy, the bill’s sponsor, said he will need Wednesday to recruit cosponsors, who will include openly gay House speaker Gordon Fox.

Rhode Island legislators have previously abandoned efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples because of insufficient support. The state has had civil unions since 2011, and it recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages. But it remains the only New England state without marriage equality.

Handy said the bill will address religious groups’ concerns, making clear that no church would have to perform marriages that go against its beliefs.

The 2012 election results increased the number of marriage equality supporters in the legislature, helping the bill’s chance of passage. Gov. Lincoln Chafee is also a supporter.