Crowds Expected for RI Senate Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

By David Klepper | March 15, 2011 | 4:42 PM EDT

Providence, R.I. (AP) - Groups on both sides of Rhode Island's gay marriage debate are expected to descend on the Statehouse as the state Senate hears testimony on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

The hearing is set for late Thursday. Dozens of people have asked to testify.

Last month's hearing in the House of Representatives attracted hundreds of supporters and opponents. House leaders say a committee could vote next week to send the measure to the full House.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, and Democratic House Speaker Gordon Fox both support the bill.

The Senate is seen as the main obstacle to passage. Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed opposes it.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.