RI Senate leader plays key role in marriage debate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — If Rhode Island joins the rest of New England in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, it will be because a formidable opponent, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, got out of the way.

The state Senate is poised to vote Wednesday on gay marriage legislation. The House has already endorsed the bill, and supporters say they’re optimistic the Senate will do the same.

Paiva Weed said she intends to vote no. But she hasn’t let her opposition interfere with the bill’s progress. The Newport Democrat says the issue is too important to be bottled up in the General Assembly.

While her opposition angers some gay marriage supporters, other gay marriage advocates have applauded her handling of the issue.

Nine states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.

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