Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a measure on Thursday that would make the state the 10th in the nation and the last in New England to legalize marriage equality. Sponsors of the proposal tried to move through similar legislation in 2011, but met with opposition and were forced to change the bill to allow civil unions only. Representative Gordon Fox, an openly gay co-sponsor of the bill, said after being elected House speaker this week that he intended to bring the marriage issue to the House floor before the end of January. "It is time," Fox, a Democrat, said in a statement. "We can no longer be the only New England state without marriage equality. Rhode Island must be next in enacting this basic civil right to marry the one you love." Maine legalized marriage equality on Saturday, leaving Rhode Island as the last of New England's six states without legislation allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. Nine of the 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Maryland was the most recent, with marriage for same-sex couples becoming legal there on Jan. 1.