An elated Rhode Island Governor Lincoln
Chafee on Monday signed an executive order recognizing the
out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Rhode Island began recognizing such
unions in 2007 at the direction of then-state Attorney General
Patrick Lynch. However, his opinion to state officials does not have
the force of law.
“Despite the long-standing Rhode
Island law respecting out-of-state marriages and a formal 2007
opinion from the attorney general that this law applies to same-sex
marriage, there remains a great deal of confusion and inconsistency
within state departments and agencies regarding the recognition of
out-of-state marriages,” Chafee told those attending the signing
ceremony. “Far too many Rhode Island couples have encountered
problems with the state failing to consistently recognize the
validity of their marriage, causing unnecessary difficulty, anxiety
“Today, I'm signing executive order
1202 to make it clear that Rhode Island recognizes and respects
out-of-state same-sex marriages,” he added.
Chafee, a strong supporter of marriage
equality, last year signed a bill which recognizes gay couples with
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, one
of the House's 4 openly gay members, cheered the move.
“As a result of Governor Chafee's
leadership, our state has come another step closer to acknowledging
that two adults in a loving and committed relationship should have
their commitment to one another recognized as marriage,” Cicilline
said in a statement. “I applaud Governor Chafee for his courageous
and bold action.”
Rhode Island is bordered by three
states where gay couples can legally marry: Connecticut,
Massachusetts and New York.