PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- Hundreds of passionate supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage gathered in the State House to give their thoughts on two different bill proposals.
The hearing lasted more than half a day, from 5 p.m. on Thursday to after 5 a.m. Friday, and Rhode Island residents, community leaders and elected officials took turns taking the microphone to argue their side of the same-sex marriage debate.
- In-Depth Coverage: Same-Sex Marriage
The crowd stuck around to hear testimonies on two different bills, one of which would legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. The other would put a referendum on the 2014 ballot, giving Rhode Island voters the power to decide whether or not the law is passed.
Gay marriage has been a hot topic for Rhode Island leaders and lawmakers over the last few years. Last year, a WPRI 12 poll found that 56.3% of registered voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, with 36% opposed and 7.8% unsure.
The bill passed through the House floor with little opposition, but many people have said it would be a closer vote in the Senate. Groups from both sides of the issue appeared to be pleased with the opportunity to debate their opinions on the issue.
"People from all across Rhode Island showed up and spoke in a clear and unanimous voice that it's time to pass marriage equality," said Ray Sullivan, Executive Director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island on Friday.
Chris Plante from the National Organization for Marriage disagreed.
"Over the last several years, we've had more defenders of marriage as one man and one woman here at this State House," said Plante. "We've shown the number and the strength that the people of Rhode Island don't want marriage redefined."
A spokesperson from the Senate said the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on the issue for the first time, but they have not yet set a date.
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