Rhode Island House may vote on marriage equality in January

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- House Speaker Gordon Fox pledged on Saturday that the R.I. House of Representatives will vote before the end of January on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

Fox, a Providence Democrat who’s in the toughest re-election fight of his 20-year career, added specificity to the pledge he made in an interview on WPRI 12′s Newsmakers earlier this year, when he announced he would call a vote in the House on gay marriage during the 2013 session if he got re-elected.

Fox, who is openly gay, told a small crowd of supporters at the restaurant Blaze on Providence’s East Side that he would call a vote “during the third or fourth week of January.” The speaker opted not to call a vote on gay marriage last year because of opposition from leading Senate Democrats including Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport.

Fox’s opponent, independent Mark Binder, has criticized the speaker for failing to call a vote, saying he “put marriage equality on the back burner because he didn’t think it would pass a Senate vote.” Binder says on his website he’s pleased Fox is now calling for a vote, but “I only wish that he’d done it years ago.”