Key Senate Committee Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Rhode Island

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis


They cheered wildly after the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a same–sex marriage bill that the House has already okayed.

Some are already making plans.

Maryellen Butke and her partner Josephine O'Connell said, “What a good day, unbelievable (What you're your plans now?) To get married absolutely getting married, absolutely. My son just asked me, before the hearing, 'Are you going to have a big wedding or a small wedding?' We're having a very big wedding. You're all invited (laughs) absolutely.”

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter said, “The bill now goes onto the full Senate, where they already know they have enough votes to pass it. Governor Chafee promises to sign it into law, making Rhode Island the final state in New England to approve same-sex marriage.”

The committee vote was 7 to 4, and opponents to same–sex marriage were bitterly disappointed.

State Sen. Harold Metts (D) Rhode Island said, “God's word, Matthew 10 is very clear, marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. It's in Scripture, so for me, they trivialize the Word of God.”

State Sen. Donna Nesselbush said, “What this bill means for me is that I am finally able to get married to the woman that I love.”

But Senator Nesselbush, who is a lesbian and was raised Roman Catholic, says religious protections in the bill helped get it passed.

Sen. Nesselbush said, “It's always been important to me that no religion ever be forced to perform a gay marriage, if they, if it violates the tenants of their faith.”

The final vote in the Senate will be Wednesday night. The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, wants voters to call their Senators and tell them to insist on a ballot referendum to decide the issue.