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RI civil union bill faces next hurdle

May 31, 2011

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A Rhode Island Senate panel is planning to review legislation Thursday allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced the hearing Tuesday. The timing of the hearing means that the full Senate could vote on the legislation as early as next week.

The bill is one of the highest profile proposals considered by the General Assembly this year. It would grant same sex couples in a civil union all of the state rights given to married couples under Rhode Island law. It was introduced as a compromise after legislative leaders announced that gay marriage legislation lacked the votes needed to pass.

The House approved the legislation two weeks ago, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee (CHAY-fee'), an independent, has said that he will support the measure.