Rhode Island lesbians marry out of state

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A lesbian couple from Rhode Island who won the right to marry in Massachusetts because laws in their home state do not expressly prohibit same-sex marriage, tied the knot before friends and family in a ceremony held last weekend.

After being denied a marriage license in Massachusetts, Wendy Becker and Mary Norton challenged a 1913 state law that prohibits out-of-state residents from marrying if the union would not be permitted in their home state.

They argued that same-sex marriage was not specifically banned in Rhode Island. Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly agreed last month, saying he saw no evidence of a “constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision” making same-sex marriage illegal in Rhode Island.

Gay Lesbian Advocates Defenders, which represented the couples, hailed the

decision “as another step toward marriage equality.”

Becker and Norton told the Associated Press they were “thrilled.”

“There shouldn’t be restrictions on people who love each other and want to get married,” Becker said last month after the court decision was delivered. “We should want more of those couples to be married, not less.”

Reuters reports that conservative Christian groups have expressed concern that such marriages would turn the liberal New England state into America’s gay-marriage capital.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage, told the AP that the ruling would muddy the waters for states.

“This creates a new level of legal chaos for regulators and lawmakers in … any state that does not expressly forbid same-sex marriage,” Mineau said. “It also furthers the notion of Massachusetts becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.”

The next step for Rhode Islanders in favour of same-sex marriage is to test the waters and by see if their marriage certificate is recognized at home, said according to Jenn Steinfeld, co-chair of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, to the AP.

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri, a Republican and a gay marriage opponent, told the Boston Globe through a spokesman that he has no plans to try to revise the state’s laws.

A spokesman for Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch told the AP that he doesn’t plan on making the first move, instead he’s waiting for the state courts or Legislature to address the issue.

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