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RI legislature seen as unlikely to take up gay marriage issue

Wednesday Dec 26, 2007

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island lawmakers seem hesitant to wade any further into the gay marriage debate during the 2008 legislative year.

The issue resurfaced recently when the state's highest court prevented a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts -- the only state where same-sex marriage is legal -- from getting divorced in their home state of Rhode Island.

In the majority ruling, the state's top court said lawmakers never gave Family Court the authority to dissolve same-sex unions and said any solutions rest with Rhode Island's legislature. Bills authorizing same-sex marriage and civil unions have died in legislative committees for years.

House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, a Democrat who announced he is gay during a floor debate, says he's not sure Democratic leaders would support a bill offering even limited divorce protections to same-sex couples married in the Bay State.

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