Rhode Island Gay Marriage Bill Passes By Wide Margin

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Gays, lesbians, their friends and families erupted into cheers on Thursday when Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

R.I. Bill

A final 56-15 vote in the Rhode Island House made it all but official, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps.

Ten U.S. states - Maryland, Washington, Iowa, New York and all six New England states - now allow gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.

California would become the 11th if Prop 8 is ruled unconstitutional. Lower courts have done so, but the case is now with the U.S. Supreme Court.

In any case, it was largely a day of celebration in Rhode Island yesterday.

"Democracy feels good, doesn't it?" said House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), who is gay and struggled to keep his composure afterward.

"This tells me our relationships matter. It means that we mean something."

Heavily-Catholic Rhode Island had long been the last New England holdout for gay marriage legislation, but the bill passed comfortably this spring.

The first marriages will take place August 1, when the law takes effect.

Same-sex marriage:

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