East Providence’s Conley votes in majority for Senate’s same-sex marriage bill

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PROVIDENCE — East Providence William J. Conley Jr. voted in the majority to support Rhode Island Senate Bill S38 Tuesday, April 23, helping to move the same-sex marriage piece of legislation out of the Judiciary Committee and to the floor for a vote of the entire upper body.

Mr. Conley, in fact, voted for all three bills presented to the committee Tuesday, including House Bill H5015, which mirrors the senate marriage equality bill authored by Pawtucket Senator Donna Nesselbush.

Bill S38 would legalize same-sex marriage and expanded protections for religiously affiliated organizations that oppose it.

Ms. Nesselbush, an openly gay legislator, called for the “truly historic piece of legislation to be passed on this historic day.”

It did, by a larger than expected 7-4 margin.

Those voting in the affirmative on the 11-member Senate Judiciary Committee included Sens. Conley and Nesselbush, Leonidas P. Raptakis,  Stephen R. Archambault, Dawson Tucker Hodgson, Paul V. Jabour and Erin P. Lynch. Those voting in the negative included Frank S. Lombardi, Michael J. McCaffrey, Harold M. Metts and Dominick J. Ruggerio.

The same senators voted in the same manner in support of the House Bill H5015.

If the bill passes the Senate when it goes before the entire upper chamber on Wednesday, April 24, Gov. Lincoln Chafee has already signaled he will it into law. Rhode Island would become the last of the six New England states to recognize same-sex marriage and the 10th in the country to do so. The full House passed H5015 by a lopsided 51-19 vote earlier this session.

Tuesday, Sen. Conley also voted in the affirmative for Senate Bill S708, which would have taken the vote out of the General Assembly and placed it on the ballot for a state-wide referendum. That measure failed in committee by a 6-5 vote.

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