Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee [official website] on Thursday signed [press release] into law a bill [H 5015B, PDF] legalizing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The bill was signed shortly after the House of Representatives approved it by a vote of 56 to 15 [vote tally] earlier that day, finally passing the legislation that was first introduced in Rhode Island in 1997. Just last week, Rhode Island's Senate voted 26 to 12 in favor of the law. The House had passed its own version of the bill [JURIST report] in January, and adopted the Senate's amendments to the bill with Thursday's vote.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia. In March the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two same-sex marriage cases. The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry [JURIST report], examines the validity of Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], a California referendum that revoked same-sex marriage rights. In the second case, United States v. Windsor [JURIST report], the court will examine the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in the two cases in December. Both cases could have an important impact on the ongoing same-sex marriage controversy in the US.