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On May 2, 2013, Governor Lincoln Chafee signed two bills legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. The signing came after months of debate in the Rhode Island legislature, and a final vote of 56-15 supporting the bills in the RI House of Representatives.
With public opinion at the time favoring same-sex marriage by a 2-1 margin, the Rhode Island Council of Churches endorsed the legislation earlier that year. The legislation was opposed, however, by Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin who at the time said “homosexual acts are … always sinful” and advised that “Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies. To do so might harm their relationship with God.”
Since the signing, RI’s definition of marriage reads “Marriage is the legally recognized union of two (2) people. Terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships shall be construed consistently with this section for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil law.” [RI Gen L § 15-1-7]
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the legality of same-sex marriages across the nation with the decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.