With Rhode Island’s marriage equality law set to take effect Aug. 1, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) extended congratulations to the same-sex couples who will soon exchange wedding vows in the Ocean State. The implementation of Rhode Island’s new law means that same-sex couples can now legally marry in all six New England States, the goal of GLAD’s “6 x 12” campaign.

“Congratulations to all of the loving, committed Rhode Island couples who can now marry and enjoy the dignity and security of having their marriage recognized at home and by the federal government,” said Lee Swislow, GLAD’s executive director. “We are joyful and proud that each of the six New England states recognizes the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

GLAD was an active part of the coalition that worked for many years to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in Rhode Island through legal work, public education, and providing strategic expertise.

The implementation of Rhode Island’s marriage law is a culmination of GLAD’s 6×12 campaign, an initiative to ensure that all six New England states had marriage equality by the year 2012.

The campaign was launched on November 18, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the historic decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the GLAD lawsuit that made Massachusetts the first state where gay couples could legally marry. At the time 6×12 was launched, the only other New England state with marriage equality was Connecticut, the result of GLAD’s successful litigation in Kerrigan v. Department of Public Health. Couples had just begun marrying in Connecticut six days earlier.

In addition to its work in Rhode Island, GLAD collaborated with statewide equality groups to bring marriage equality to New Hampshire and Vermont legislatively, and in Maine through the ballot initiative process.

“We missed our goal of 6×12 by only four and a half months,” said Swislow. “I’d call that a major victory. And the spotlight that marriage equality has shone on our community will enable us to keep the ball rolling and address a myriad of other issues we face. We’ll keep moving forward.”

Aug. 1 also marks the start of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota, which enacted its marriage equality law soon after Rhode Island.