Gays, lesbians, friends, families and allies erupted into cheers Thursday following a final 56-15 vote in the Rhode Island House, and then again an hour later when Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps as Rhode Island officially became the 10th State to allow gay marriage.
The National Organization for Marriage and the Catholic Church was the most significant opponent, even though the legislation states that religious institutions may set their own rules regarding who is eligible to marry within the faith and specifies that no religious leader is obligated to officiate at any marriage ceremony and no religious group is required to provide facilities or services related to a gay marriage Bishop Thomas Tobin urged lawmakers to defeat what he called an “immoral and unnecessary” change to traditional marriage law.
On Thursday, Tobin repeated his opposition, writing in a letter to Rhode Island’s Catholics that “homosexual acts are… always sinful.”
“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.”
The first same-sex marriages will take place on Aug. 1