Today, the Rhode Island Senate teed up history with a bipartisan vote of 26 to 12 in favor of legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Governor Lincoln Chafee has pledged to sign the bill, which will make Rhode Island the 10th state – in addition to the District of Columbia – where same-sex couples can marry. It will also be the final New England state to grant the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

“Today the Rhode Island Senate simply affirmed what the majority of their constituents believe: that loving, committed same-sex couples in Rhode Island need and deserve the dignity and respect that only marriage can provide,” said Janson Wu, staff attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “Marriage makes for stronger families, which in turn makes for stronger communities. This is a momentous day for all Rhode Islanders.

“GLAD is grateful to all of the Senators who joined their House colleagues to support fairness for all Rhode Island families. We eagerly anticipate Governor Chafee’s signing of this bill,” Wu added. “We salute the thousands of Rhode Islanders who contacted their legislators to talk about why marriage matters and all of our coalition partners at Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, who worked so skillfully to bring us to this historic point.”

Marriage equality in Rhode Island will bring to a close GLAD’s “6 x 12” campaign, our initiative to achieve marriage equality in all six New England states by 2012 – albeit a few months later than originally projected. GLAD launched the initiative in 2008, on the five-year anniversary of the decision in its lawsuit Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which made Massachusetts the first marriage equality state in New England and the country. GLAD has since worked through the courts or legislatively – collaborating with partner organizations in each state – to achieve marriage equality throughout New England.

“We’ve re-dubbed our ‘6 x 12’ campaign ‘6 x 12.3,’ and that’s just fine,” said GLAD Executive Director Lee Swislow. “With Rhode Island now in the win column, New England is a marriage equality zone, a beacon of justice and fairness for the rest of our country. We look forward to the day when the equality zone encompasses all fifty states and the federal government.”

For questions about marriage or any other LGBT issue, call GLAD’s free and confidential Legal InfoLine at 1-800-455-GLAD(4523) or email