RI lawmaker, husband celebrate arrival of same-sex marriage

State Rep. Frank Ferri, Tony Caparco

Frank Ferri and Tony Caparco first got together in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was president and "Bette Davis Eyes" was the No. 1 pop song.

Twenty-five years later, they married in Canada after a health scare caused them to fear for their legal rights.

Ferri went on to become a state representative, leading the 16-year fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.

"Every year that we worked on this I saw more and more support. More and more people would tell us it's going to happen. But I would say the same thing, 'It's going to happen, but when? I want it to happen.' But I always saw progress," Ferri said.

His husband was a full partner in the fight. He always saw progress, but sometimes, when addressing younger groups, he couldn't be sure it would happen for him.

"I know it's going to happen in your lifetime. I want it to happen in my lifetime, and I can't believe -- I can't believe that it actually has," Caparco said.

"A lot of people have had to really stop and pinch themselves and realize that an effort that's taken nearly two decades to win -- the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples -- is finally here," said Ray Sullivan of Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

Providence City Hall is taking marriage license applications early so people will be able to tie the knot on Thursday, the first day for same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.

The only change to the form is the choice of "spouse" in addition to "bride" or "groom."

"It's just the same as every other marriage license," said Serena Conley, of the Board of Licenses.

But not like every other marriage to these Ferri and Caparco, who had their first date on Aug. 1, 32 years ago.

They said this celebration will be more symbolic than their 2006 wedding in Vancouver. But they said getting married in the state where they both grew up is something they've been fighting for, for a long time.