The senate judiciary committee voted 7-4 to move the vote to the full senate floor on Wednesday. The bill has already passed the house and Gov. Lincoln Chafee has said he would sign the bill into law.
As the Rhode Island senate prepares to vote on whether to establish legal marriage equality for same-sex couples, five Republicans said that they plan to support the bill.
"We recognize that there is a national consensus building on this generational issue, and we are glad that support for the freedom to marry is growing within the Republican Party," senators Dennis Algiere, David Bates, Dawson Hodgson, Nicholas Kettle, and Chris Ottiano said in a joint statement Tuesday morning. "Today we join the 209 other Republican state legislators across America who have stood up for the freedom to marry...we are proud to add our voices to reaffirm the principles of freedom and equality under the law."
Lesbian Senator Donna Nesselbush, the lead sponsor on the bill, said she believes the majority of senators will support marriage equality.
"We're not there yet, but I do believe a majority of senators support granting civil rights to gay people," she said to the Associated Press.
Janson Wu, a staff attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) testified before the senate judiciary committee in favor of the bill.
"Only marriage gives same-sex couples and their families the recognition and respect they need and deserve," he said in a statement Tuesday after the committee moved the bill forward. "GLAD is hopeful that the full Senate will act quickly to pass this bill."
Rhode Island could become the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to establish legal marriage equality.