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Rhode Island lawmakers vote to end authority over marriages

June 23, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Years of “no’s” have culminated in the Rhode Island legislature saying “yes” to a proposal that would remove lawmakers’ authority over approving who has permission to officiate marriages.

Lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a proposal that would end the General Assembly’s role in deciding who gets to officiate a wedding in Rhode Island, The Providence Journal reported. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Dan McKee, who has said he supports it.

Currently, people who are not either a member of clergy or a judge need special permission from the legislature before they can perform a wedding in the state. But that can be a time-consuming and confusing process, said those who supported the change.

“It is an inconvenience to the people of Rhode Island that they need to seek a formal act of law just because they want a friend or family member to officiate at their wedding,” Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, who introduced the bill in the Senate, said in a statement.

There has been multiple attempts in recent years to amend the law. Supporters of the bill also argued that the current law allowed opponents of gay marriage to deny marriage bills for LGBTQ couples, the newspaper said.