Patricia Baker, advocate for same-sex marriage in R.I.; 55

Associated Press / August 16, 2011

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PROVIDENCE - A Rhode Island woman who pleaded with state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage before she succumbed to cancer has died.

Marriage Equality Rhode Island said Johnston resident Patricia Baker died Sunday at Kent Hospital. She was 55.

Ms. Baker was struggling with lung cancer when she testified on behalf of gay marriage legislation this year at the State House. Occasionally using her oxygen tank to breathe, the retired correctional officer told lawmakers she was angry that her wife would receive no benefits from the government after her death.

Ms. Baker and Deborah Tevyaw married in Massachusetts, but wanted their relationship recognized in their home state. Ms. Baker’s testimony made her a spokeswoman for gay marriage advocates in the Ocean State.