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RI House Passes Same-Sex Civil Union Bill

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In this Tuesday, May 3, 2011 photo former Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, left, speaks with R.I. House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, right, on the floor of the House Chamber, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. Fox, the first openly gay lawmaker to lead a state House of Representatives, stunned many gay marriage supporters in Rhode Island when he announced said he'd back civil unions instead of gay marriage legislation. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

In this Tuesday, May 3, 2011 photo former Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, left, speaks with R.I. House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, right, on the floor of the House Chamber, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. Fox, the first openly gay lawmaker to lead a state House of Representatives, stunned many gay marriage supporters in Rhode Island when he announced said he’d back civil unions instead of gay marriage legislation. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions after a last-ditch effort to turn the initiative into a bill that would allow gay couples to marry failed.

Lawmakers voted 62-11 Thursday to endorse the bill, which now moves to the Senate.

The proposal would allow gay couples to enter into civil unions granting all of the state rights given to married couples under Rhode Island law. It was introduced as a compromise after legislative leaders said gay marriage legislation lacked the votes needed to pass this year.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has predicted that civil unions will win broad support in her chamber. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, has said he would sign the measure.

Gay marriage advocates tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the gay marriage legislation during House debate.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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