Hundreds of people turned out at the Rhode Island Statehouse Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would legalize marriages for gay and lesbian couples in the state. Similar legislation has been proposed in Rhode Island previously, but faced opposition from former Republican Gov. Don Carcieri. The current Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee (pictured) supports marriage equality. In a letter to the committee, Chafee called the issue a matter of "fundamental fairness," reports the Boston Globe. "When we deprive gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders of the freedom to marry, we not only deny them a fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution, we also diminish the freedom and liberty of all Rhode Islanders," he added in the letter. The bill must pass the committee before moving on to the House for a vote. After passing the House, the bill will move on to the more conservative state Senate. The Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed opposes marriage equality, reports the Associated Press. Rhoda Island is one of eight states where marriage equality is making headlines. In November 2010, GLAAD was on the ground in Rhode Island, providing media training to the staff and volunteers of Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI), as well as committed gay and lesbian couples who want to take care of and be responsible for the people they love most.