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Five R.I. mayors back gay marriage

PROVIDENCE — Five Rhode Island mayors called on the state Senate Monday to pass legislation allowing gays and lesbians to marry, joining a growing list of those backing the effort to join the rest of New England in allowing same-sex wedlock.

Mayors Angel Taveras of Providence, Donald Grebien of Pawtucket, Daniel McKee of Cumberland, and James ­Diossa of Central Falls gathered at Providence City Hall to announce the creation of ­Mayors for Marriage Equality.

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Mayor Scott Avedisian of Warwick is also a member but could not attend Monday’s event.

‘‘I believe this is a critical moment in our history,’’ said Taveras. ‘‘I want my daughter to be able to know her father was on the right side.’’

McKee said personal or religious opinions about gay marriage are not relevant to whether gay and lesbian couples should be granted the same marriage rights as straight partners.

‘‘I see it as a classic church and state issue,’’ he said. ‘‘When somebody comes to my Town Hall for a marriage ­license, I don’t ask where they are going to get married.’’

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Rhode ­Island House in January, but its fate remains uncertain in the Senate, where a vote has yet to be scheduled.

‘I believe this is a critical moment in our history. . . . I want my daughter to be able to know her father was on the right side.’

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Last week, the Senate ­Judiciary Committee held a nearly 12-hour hearing on the legislation where 650 supporters and opponents signed up to speak.

The committee heard testimony but took no action.

The coalition of mayors is the latest group to join the push for gay marriage in Rhode Island.

Other groups endorsing the legislation include the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, and a group calling itself Rhode Island Business Leaders for Marriage Equality.

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