Saying Rhode Island should pass its own marriage equality law, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order today that asserts this state recognizes same sex marriages performed in other states.
“Let’s get there ourselves,” he said to an enthusiastic crowd packed into the State Room of the State House. “This is the home of Roger Williams. Come on, let’s go.”
The governor’s executive order reaffirms a 2007 memo from the attorney general that said Rhode Island recognizes all marriages performed in other states per a 1904 law. But Chafee said there has been some confusion in state government as to whether or not same sex marriages performed in other states are valid in Rhode Island.
“This executive order,” he said, “sends a clear message to married Rhode Islanders, regardless of their sexual orientation, that they can and should rely on their marriage to protect them and their families in important ways.”
Ray Sullivan, of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, said Rhode Island is the first state in the country “to sign an executive order providing critical clarity and direction to government agencies regarding the recognition of same-sex, out-of-state marriages.”
Sullivan said, in a press release, “While this moves us closer to full marriage equality, nothing less is sufficient, and we will keep fighting.”
Chafee said talks are ongoing between him and legislative leaders about passing a marriage equality law this session. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed is still standing in the way of the bill’s passage. Chafee said she is not amenable to passing the bill this session. When asked if she seemed willing to support the bill this year, Chafee said, “To be perfectly honest with you, not in this session.”
He indicated that House Speaker Gordon Fox is ready to pass the bill. When asked who supports passing marriage equality this session, he said, “You can probably guess who is supportive and who isn’t.”
Fox, who is openly gay, fought behind the scenes to get Paiva Weed to support same sex marriage last session, but never called for a full vote in his chamber because some members did not want to have to go on record if they knew it wouldn’t pass in the Senate.