Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Less than a week after New York became the nation's sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, Rhode Island state lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that permits civil unions between gay and lesbian couples.
The measure, which passed the state Senate by a count of 21-16, is widely seen as a compromise intended to provide same-same couples with added rights and benefits, while also preventing an expanded legal definition of marriage.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, is expected to sign the bill into law, according to his spokesman, Michael Trainor.
If signed, the law would take effect on July 1, making Rhode Island the fifth state in the union to allow civil unions between same-sex couples.
Such unions are currently permitted in New Jersey and Illinois, and will be allowed in Delaware and Hawaii beginning January 1, 2012.
Three West Coast states -- California, Oregon and Washington -- plus Nevada, also allow for "comprehensive domestic partnerships," largely considered an equivalent to their civil union counterparts.
Read the full article here.