PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island's Episcopal bishop has announced his support for gay marriage as state lawmakers prepare to vote on the issue.
Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely said Friday that he supports gay marriage not in spite of his faith but because of it, and says gays and lesbians deserve the same marriage rights as any other couple.
The Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality released a statement thanking Knisely for his support. The coalition is made up of more than 140 leaders from different faiths.
The state's Episcopal Diocese represents 35,000 members.
The issue of gay marriage has split Rhode Island's religious community. Rhode Island's Catholic bishop has denounced gay marriage as immoral and unnecessary.
The House is expected to vote on gay marriage next week.