For Rhode Island Rep. Frank Ferri, Thursday marked a long-awaited milestone for him and his partner of 32 years. After Rhode Island became the 13th state to legalize gay marriage, county clerks began issuing marriage licenses when their offices opened at 8:30am this morning.Ferri and his longtime partner, Anthony Caparco, were one of four couples who waited outside Warwick City Hall starting 7:30 am. Ferri, who first testified in favor of marriage equality 15 years ago, is a Democratic state representative from Rhode Island who helped usher in legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. While Ferri has been an elected official for six years, he has advocated for marriage equality at the Statehouse for nearly two decades.The couple finally wed late Thursday, the first day the law went into effect, and also the couple's anniversary. Although the two men wed seven years ago when they vacationed in Vancouver, Canada, Ferri said on msnbc's The Last Word that being allowed to marry in their home state would be more meaningful to the couple."I know the train is out of the station and it’s going and it’s not stopping and it’s not coming back, said Ferri. "We have seen it here in New England. We know how people are opening their minds because so many couples like ourselves who are living their lives openly and honestly every day. I think that’s driving this and with the help of the president's support and many legislatures, this is going to happen."
Rhode Island is the final state in New England to allow gay marriage after it was approved by lawmakers on May 2. The law was signed into law on the same day by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee, who became one of the earliest prominent national proponents of same-sex marriage when he was a Republican senator. Chaffee, who ran as an Independent in 2010 and changed his party affiliation to Democrat in late May, made marriage equality a priority in his campaign.The governor attended the couple's wedding, which was officiated by House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly gay."It’s been a lot of work. It’s been a long road," said Caparco. "It’s just an exciting day for us and the Speaker is thrilled to be officiating at our ceremony.”Even though Rhode Island legally allowed domestic partnerships in 2002, a bill to legalize gay marriage was introduced every year since 1997.“It’s still settling in. It’s a funny feeling to know that I don’t have to get out of bed tomorrow and advocate another day for gay marriage,” said Ferri to the Boston Globe. “I’ve been talking to so many people over so many years about it and trying to educate people. You know, every chance I got I was advocating for it, even if it was just in subtle ways. So, now it’s happened, it’s strange. Pinch me! It’s a really, really strange feeling.”