A proposal to create civil unions for gay couples in Rhode Island will soon face its first legislative test.
The House Judiciary Committee has set a vote on the measure for Tuesday. If the committee endorses civil unions the proposal will head to the full House for consideration.
Civil unions would grant the same state rights given to married couples in Rhode Island. The proposal was introduced after legislative leaders said gay marriage legislation lacked the votes to pass. They predict broad support for civil unions.
The civil union bill had few backers at a recent legislative hearing, however. Supporters of gay marriage say civil unions make gay couples second-class citizens. Opponents say the bill would be a steppingstone to full marriage rights for same-sex couples.