Rhode Island passes gay marriage law

NEW YORK, USA - Rhode Island on Thursday, May 2, became the 10th US state to legalize same-sex marriage, joining the rest of New England on the controversial issue and turning the region into a haven for homosexual rights.

Governor Lincoln Chafee, a Republican turned independent, was set to sign the bill into law after it passed by 56-15 votes in the state lower house.

"This truly is a historic day for our great state," Chafee said.

Hundreds of supporters of gay marriage gathered at the legislature for the occasion.

The state Senate had separately voted for a slightly different version to one approved initially by the House, requiring the House to vote again on Thursday. It will take effect from August 1.

The law puts Rhode Island in the company of nine other states, most of them in relatively liberal New England -- Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Iowa, Maryland and Washington state are the others. The US capital city, Washington, DC, also has voted to allow gay marriage.

Federal law does not recognize same-sex unions, although the Supreme Court is looking at whether it should overturn the restriction. - Rappler.com