The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today congratulated the four openly gay and lesbian Rhode Island state legislators whose efforts helped secure marriage equality for same-sex couples.
House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, Rep. Frank Ferri, Rep. Deb Ruggiero and Sen. Donna Nesselbush became the face and voice of thousands of LGBT Rhode Islanders in same-sex relationships who have long sought equality under law, speaking out in favor of legislation that received final approval today in the state Senate. The House, which already gave overwhelming approval to another version of the bill, is expected to approve the Senate-passed legislation next week, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee has vowed to sign it into law.
“We are grateful to Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian legislators for standing up for themselves, for their partners, for their families and for every young person across the state who dreams of one day marrying the person they love,” said Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe. “They spoke passionately and authentically about the personal impact of this struggle, and that has made a tremendous difference. Today is a day to celebrate their hard work, and that of their colleagues and all the groups in the Rhode Islanders United for Marriage coalition who made this day possible.”
Openly LGBT lawmakers, working alongside local, state and national LGBT organizations, have also seen success in recent legislative pushes for marriage equality in New York, Maryland and Washington state. Currently, 109 openly gay, lesbian and bisexual state legislators are serving in 37 U.S. states.
“We’re working to make sure every single state legislature in America has the benefit of at least one openly LGBT lawmaker who can speak for our community,” said Wolfe, “but when we can build up a caucus of four, five, six or more, it makes it far more likely that state legislatures will begin to see LGBT Americans as worthy of the right to pursue happiness.”
Go here to sign Victory Fund’s online card thanking the four out members of the Rhode Island legislature.