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Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee happily signs gay marriage bill into law

There are now 10 US states plus District of Columbia with marriage equality

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee enthusiastically signed gay marriage into law at a  statehouse ceremony Thursday evening (2 May).

Now all of the New England states allow gay marriage. The first weddings in Rhode Island could occur on 1 August when the new law will take effect.

Chafee was surrounded by hundreds of supporters of the legislation as he signed the bill. After doing so, he gave a thumbs up to the cheering crowd.

'Today we are making history ... we are living up to the ideals of our founder,' Chafee said from the steps of the statehouse. 'When your belief and heart is in something, it's easy work. I am proud to say that now, at long last, you are free to marry the person you love.'

The signing came shortly after the House of Representatives in a procedural vote approved a marriage equality by a final House vote of 56-15.

Jenn Steinfeld, one of the co-founders of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, has been amazed to see the growing support for gay marriage in the heavily Catholic state in recent uyears.

'Seeing the tide change, seeing people who aren't personally affected support us, it's just been amazing,' Steinfeld told the Associated Press.

Rhode Island joins the states of Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut plus the District of Columbia in legalizing gay marriage.

The next state to pass marriage equality could be Delaware where the State Senate will vote on a bill next week. The House of Representatives has already passed a bill and Governor Jack Markell has vowed to sign passed legislation into law.

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