The Rhode Island senate judiciary committee will hold a hearing Thursday on a measure to grant civil unions to same-sex couples in the state.
The senate hearing follows bipartisan approval last month in the house, which voted 62 to 11 to pass the civil unions bill. Rep. Peter Petrarca introduced the bill as a compromise after house speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay, determined not enough support existed for marriage equality legislation this session. Gay and antigay lobbyists denounced the civil unions legislation, the former as inadequate and the latter as an opening to marriage equality.
According to The Providence Journal, no senate vote is expected on the civil unions proposal on Thursday. Senate president M. Teresa Paiva Weed, a Democrat who opposes marriage equality, has said that a civil unions bill would pass her chamber.
Rhode Island could become the fifth state, following Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, and Delaware, to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who wanted the legislature to pass marriage equality, has indicated that he will sign a civil unions bill.