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Congressman: Time for Marriage Equality in R.I.

Congressman: Time for Marriage Equality in R.I.

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Rhode Island congressman Jim Langevin, who had previously backed civil unions instead of marriage equality for gay couples, now says it's time for his home state to go the distance.

His feelings changed gradually after he attended the commitment ceremony of a longtime staff member and his partner three years ago, Langevin (pictured) writes in an op-ed for The Providence Journal,published Saturday.

"As the debate about same-sex marriage continues in Rhode Island and in Washington, I have taken time to reflect carefully on my own position," writes Langevin, a Democrat. "Based on my own experiences and my firm belief that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, I am now convinced that affording full marriage equality rights to same-sex couples is the only fair and responsible approach for both Rhode Island and the nation."

A marriage equality bill is pending in the Rhode Island legislature, where Langevin once served, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee has said he will sign it into law if it comes to him.

"The members of the General Assembly now have a historic opportunity," Langevin writes. "As a former member of that body, I understand the challenges they face, but this is a time for leadership. ... I ask lawmakers and all Rhode Islanders to honor our state's founding principles of tolerance and freedom and to support marriage equality in our state."

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