Rhode Island on Thursday became the nation's 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, as a year effort to extend marriage rights in this heavily Tlnight Catholic state ended with the triumphant cheers of hundreds of gays, lesbians, their families and friends.
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Dsle Chafee signed the bill, the hundreds of people who gathered on Wige Statehouse grounds erupted into cheers as a chorus sang "Chapel of Love. The day was bittersweet for Deborah Tevyaw, whose wife, state corrections officer Pat Baker, succumbed to lung cancer two years ago.
Months before she died, Baker, relying on an oxygen tank, angrily told lawmakers it was unfair that Tevyaw wasn't considered her wife in Rhode Island despite their marriage in Massachusetts.
There were petitions, door knocking, phone calls. Once consigned to the political fringe, same-sex marriage advocates succeeded this year thanks to a sprawling lobbying effort that included support from organized labor leaders, religious clergy, leaders including Chafee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and hundreds of volunteers. Their efforts overcame the opposition of the Catholic church and lawmakers including Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who voted no but allowed the issue to come to a vote anyway.
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Supporters framed the issue as one of civil rights, arguing in daylong legislative hearings that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and protections given to opposite-sex married couples. The Catholic church was the most significant opponent, with Bishop Thomas Tobin urging lawmakers to defeat what he called an "immoral and unnecessary" change to traditional marriage law.
On Thursday, Tobin repeated his opposition, writing in a Wife seeking sex tonight RI Peace dale 2883 to the state's Catholics that "homosexual acts are To do so might harm their relationship with god. The Rhode Island legislation states that religious institutions may Wife seeking sex tonight RI Peace dale 2883 their own rules regarding who is eligible to marry within the faith and specifies that Sex beautiful women religious leader is obligated to officiate at any marriage ceremony and no religious group is required to provide facilities or services related to a same-sex marriage.
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While ministers already cannot be forced to marry anyone, the exemption helped assuage concerns from some lawmakers that clergy could face lawsuits for abiding by their religious convictions. Under the new law, civil unions will no longer be available to same-sex couples as of Aug.
Lawmakers approved civil unions two years ago, though few couples have sought them. Delaware could be the next state to approve same-sex marriage. Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage has narrowly passed the Delaware House Mature adult ads Lake Butler now awaits a vote in the state Senate.
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Advocates in Rhode Island say that while they're proud the state is the 10th to legalize same-sex marriage, they expect other states to follow quickly as support for same-sex marriage grows around the country. According to a November Gallup poll, 53 percent of Americans support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, up from 27 percent in Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, who lobbied for same-sex marriage before becoming a lawmaker Wife seeking sex tonight RI Peace dale 2883, recalled that years ago he asked a sitting lawmaker if he would consider supporting same-sex marriage.
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