Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize gay marriage on Thursday as Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the legislation into law on the steps of the Statehouse, ABC News reports. The first marriages could take place Aug. 1, when the new law takes effect. "Today we are making history," Chafee said just before he signed the bill. "We are living up to the ideals of our founder. ... When your belief and heart is in something, it's easy work. I am proud to say that now, at long last, you are free to marry the person you love." The House passed the bill in January at the behest of House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, who is gay. The Senate was seen as the bigger challenge, but the bill passed easily last week after Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, said she would allow a vote despite her opposition to gay marriage. The House gave final approval Thursday with a 56-15 vote.