PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -Though support for gay marriage appears to be gaining momentum around the country, a Rhode Island lawmaker says she doubts that her bill allowing same-sex couples to wed will even make it out of committee this year.

But Sen. Rhoda Perry, a Providence Democrat who for years has sponsored legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, says she hopes there will be broader support for a separate bill that would allow same-sex couples who are wed in other states to get divorced in Rhode Island.

The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, had been scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee but was postponed. The legislation died last year, but Perry said she hoped the legislation would benefit from recent actions in other states.

Vermont on Tuesday became the third New England state to permit same-sex marriage after legislators overrode a veto from the governor. Massachusetts and Connecticut are the two others, and the Iowa Supreme Court ruled this month to allow same-sex marriage.

But bills that would allow gay couples to wed have died year after year in heavily Catholic Rhode Island. Democratic House Speaker William Murphy is a strong opponent, as is Republican Gov. Don Carcieri. And Perry suspects this year won’t be any different.

“The feeling, the value, and the ethos on marriage is with men and women, as far as they’re concerned,” she said.

The same-sex divorce bill was inspired by a 2007 state Supreme Court decision that blocked a lesbian couple who married in Massachusetts from divorcing in Rhode Island, where the women lived.

On Wednesday, Carcieri said at a news conference that legalizing same-sex marriage should be decided by citizens though a ballot question, not by courts or legislative action.

Calling himself a “traditionalist” but saying he was not “anti-gay,” Carcieri and his wife, Sue, lent their support for a new advertising campaign by a national group that opposes gay marriage.

The state chapter of the National Organization for Marriage unveiled a television ad to be rolled out first in Rhode Island, later in other battleground states.

In the commercial, dark clouds and lightning rumble in the background as speakers warn that advocates for same-sex marriage are threatening their rights and beliefs.

“We’re not naive about the momentum that is being gained,” Chris Plante, the group’s executive director.

AP-ES-04-08-09 1827EDT


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