Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state and final one in New England to legalize gay marriage. Thursday evening,  its House of Representatives passed a bill extending marriage rights to homosexuals. Governor Lincoln Chafee has been a gay marriage advocate since taking office in 2011 and signed the bill yesterday, shortly after its approval.

“I am proud and humbled to make the Marriage Equality Act the law of the land in Rhode Island,” Chafee said in a statement. “We would not be where we are today without the Rhode Islanders who for decades have fought for tolerance and freedom over discrimination and division.”

Chafee backed the measure as a way to spur the state’s economy. Rhode Island’s law takes effect Aug. 1.

Along with the five other New England states — Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut — same-sex marriages also are legal in Washington, Iowa, New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Similar measures are pending in Delaware, Illinois and Minnesota.

Rhode Island House Passes Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

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