Demand For Gay Marriage Licenses Is Steady In RI

By David Klepper

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The demand for marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples in Rhode Island continues one month after the state's new marriage law took effect.

Clerks in Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket and other cities told The Associated Press on Aug. 30 that they've issued dozens of licenses since Aug. 1, the first day same-sex couples could wed in Rhode Island.

Officials in Providence and East Providence are not counting how many licenses they've given to gay and lesbian couples. The new law eliminated gender classification in the state's marriage law, and Providence city spokesman David Ortiz said there's no reason to treat same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples differently.

"We treat them the same. With the change in the law, we should not be doing any record keeping that separates the two," Ortiz said. "That was our reading of the law."

East Providence Clerk Kim Casci said her city isn't keeping track of how many marriage licenses its issues to gay and lesbian couples either. "We keep them all together," she said.

Clerks in other cities said the number of couples seeking marriage licenses peaked Aug. 1 but has remained steady since. In Warwick, six or eight couples showed up for licenses on the first day they were offered. The city has now issued 20 licenses to same-sex couples, according to City Clerk Marie Ahlert.

She said her office has had no problems implementing the new law.

In the first month of the new law, seven same-sex couples have obtained licenses in Newport. Cranston and Pawtucket have both issued 16 licenses. Those three cities have also had couples convert an existing civil union into a marriage.

South Kingstown, Woonsocket, Coventry and Cumberland have each issued seven or fewer licenses to same-sex couples.

Rhode Island was the last New England state to allow gay marriage, which is now legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

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