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Rhode Island House easily passes gay marriage bill

BY DAVID KLEPPER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Rhode Island House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation to allow gays and lesbians to marry in the only New England state where they can't.

The House voted 51-19 after an often emotional debate that touched on civil rights, religion and the nature of marriage. The bill now moves to the Senate, where both supporters and opponents of gay marriage say it is difficult to predict the bill's fate.

"This has been a long journey," said House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay and supported same-sex legislation when it was first introduced in 1997. "Today is a great day. Today ... we stand for equality, we stand for justice."

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