Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri has accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at an upcoming fundraiser for the anti-gay group Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), The Providence Journal reported.

The group's 18th Annual Fundraising Banquet is scheduled for October 15 in Newton, Massachusetts.

Carcieri's participation has raised the hackles of gay rights groups, including the recently formed Queer Action of Rhode Island, which asked the Republican governor to cancel the appearance.

“We find it appalling that you, the governor to all people of [Rhode Island], would support the fundraising efforts of an organization that advocates against the lives of some R.I. citizens,” the group said in a letter addressed to the governor. “By making this fundraising speech, the negative message you will send to Rhode Island's gay community – especially its younger members – is extremely harmful.”

On Wednesday, the governor defended himself. “I don't believe in discrimination against anybody, I never have. I have a conviction about what marriage should be defined as,” Carcieri said during a radio interview on WPRO-AM. “That's nothing new. People can disagree. I understand that, but, you know, I have a right to my view as well.”

But the MFI objects to any pro-gay legislation, including a transgender anti-discrimination bill currently being debated by Massachusetts lawmakers. The group dubbed the bill the “bathroom bill,” and called on lawmakers to flush the bill that adds gender identity to the list of protected classes down the toilet. They argue that the bill would invite sexual predators into bathrooms, putting women and children in peril.

“DON'T WAIT UNTIL A WOMAN OR CHILD IS ASSAULTED!,” the group says on their website. “Tell your state representative to OPPOSE the Transgender Bill.”

Carcieri, who will be term-limited out of office next year, remains a major obstacle to passing a gay marriage bill in Rhode Island, which lawmakers have considered for the last 12 years. The governor also backs an effort to place a gay marriage ban in the Rhode Island Constitution. And in the spring, he and his wife, Sue, joined the state's newly minted chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage.