Big-name gay-marriage backers hosting fundraiser Wednesday

Same-sex marriage supporters are predicting a heavy turnout Wednesday night at a fundraiser on Providence’s wealthy East Side that will benefit the advocacy group Rhode Islanders United for Marriage.

More than 90 people have RSVP’d to say they’re planning to attend the event at the Firglade Avenue home of Maryellen Butke, the prominent education activist and 2012 state Senate candidate, and her partner, Jo O’Connell. Suggested contributions start at $50.

The host committee for the event includes Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Pawtucket Sen. Donna Nesselbush, a lead sponsor of the marriage bill. Also on the list are real-estate developer Buff Chace and Xay Khamsyvoravong, who was former Treasurer Frank Caprio’s campaign manager.

The Rhode Islanders United for Marriage campaign staff will provide attendees with an update on the status of marriage legislation at the State House. Advocates got a boost Sunday when Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed announced she expects a vote before the end of this month.

Butke’s 12-year-old son made national headlines when he testified in support of same-sex marriage last month. “There has been such a groundswell of support for marriage equality,” she told WPRI.com in an email. “I feel so moved by what is happening locally and nationally. This is a major sea change.”

Union leaders hosted their own fundraiser for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage on Monday.

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