CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Local leaders are praising Rhode Island’s decision to become the tenth state to enact marriage protections for same-sex couples.
On Thursday, the Rhode Island House of Representatives gave their final approval to the bill, later signed into law Thursday evening by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Hundreds of people who had gathered for Chafee’s signing ceremony broke out singing “Chapel of Love.”
“Now, at long last, you are free to marry the person that you love,” Chafee said.
In Charlotte, local LGBT community leaders also reacted positively to the news.
Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte and the Freedom Center for Social Justice, said she is looking forward to the day marriage equality is a reality in North Carolina
“I am extremely excited about the progress that the country is making in terms of equality for all of her citizens,” Rawls said in a statement. “I am also grateful for those states that are now receiving marriage benefits and hold hope for my own North Carolina as it relates to our embrace of equality for all.”
Scott Coleman, chair of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Board of Trustees, also praised the move.
“The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte is excited that Rhode Island has become the tenth state to enact marriage equality into law,” said Coleman. “This is yet another step towards full equal rights for all LGBT Americans. This also demonstrates that if we unite together, there is nothing that our community cannot accomplish!”
Rhode Island joins its neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut. Other states that recognize same-sex marriage are Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
North Carolina voters passed an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages last year. Advocates in Raleigh are planning on marking one year of the discriminatory amendment next week.
[Ed. Note — This story has been updated. Vermont and New Hampshire were originally left out of the list of states that recognize same-sex marriage. We regret the error.]