Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) on Thursday night will sign into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, making that state the tenth in the nation to do so. [UPDATE: Chafee signed the bill Thursday on the steps of the State House.]
Chafee has already said he will sign the measure, which cleared a procedural vote in the state's General Assembly earlier on Thursday. In addition to Rhode Island and nine other states, the District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriages.
Yet Rhode Island's achievement could soon be old hat. A handful of other states are on track to legalize gay marriage — including one that could do so within weeks.
The Delaware State Senate will vote next week on a marriage equality bill. A Senate subcommittee voted yesterday to send the bill to the full Senate, where Democrats hold a 13-8 advantage, making final passage likely.
The House passed the bill last week, and Gov. Jack Markell (D) has already said he'll sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a gay marriage bill last February, but the state legislature has indicated it will try to override his veto. Supporters would need to entice a few more votes in the Senate and about a dozen more in the Assembly for that to happen.
At the same time, Christie has suggested putting the issue on a ballot for voters to decide. A recent Quinnipiac poll found voters there overwhelmingly in support of same-sex marriage, by a 64-30 percent margin.
Minnesotans last year defeated a ballot initiative that would have amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage. The state may now go one step further by legalizing gay marriage, but through the legislature this time.
The Illinois Senate passed a bill in February that would legalize gay marriage, but the House has yet to vote on it, as supporters try to scratch together enough votes to secure passage. The bill has the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who said last month he was "really optimistic we're within striking distance" of legalization.
While a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is still on the books, supporters of marriage equality are aiming to undo that. The state's leading gay rights group, Basic Right Oregon, is collecting signatures to place marriage equality on the ballot in 2014.
Polls have shown voters generally in favor of reversing the ban, which was passed in 2004. The New York Times' polling guru Nate Silver estimated recently that 54 percent of voters there would have backed a theoretical marriage equality ballot initiative last year.
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