Rhode Island’s state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that leaves the state only a few steps away from legalizing gay marriage. Next the House must approve amendments to the bill, which it already passed, and then it goes to Governor Lincoln Chafee, who told the Associated Press, “I’m very much looking forward to signing this.” The measure passed the Senate 26-12, and surprisingly the “no” votes came from eleven Democrats and one independent. The Senate’s five Republicans announced they would support the bill earlier this week, saying it goes along with their party’s beliefs. “This is an issue of fairness, equality and civil rights,” said Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere. “Those are our values, and we stand by them.” If all goes as expected, gay Rhode Island couples will be allowed to marry on August 1, and gay marriage will be legal in all of New England, as well as New York, Iowa, Maryland, and Washington.