Can same-sex couples legally marry in Rhode Island?
Yes, after many years of failed attempts and nearly two years after the passage of a civil unions bill in July 2011, on May 2, 2013, the Rhode Island General Assembly approved and Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a marriage equality law, An Act Relating to Domestic Relations-Persons Eligible to Marry (see http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText13/HouseText13/H5015B.pdf), that extended the right to marry to same-sex couples effective August 1, 2013.
That legislation also ended the ability of same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in Rhode Island on that same date and allows any couples already in a Rhode Island civil union to keep their civil unions or merge their civil unions into marriage (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-3.1-12).
Two years later, in Obergefell v. Hodges (135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015)), the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality a reality nationwide when it held that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. GLAD’s own Mary Bonauto represented the plaintiffs during oral arguments. Post-Obergefell, all 50 states are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and all states must respect the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions.