Both men seeking the Democratic nomination for Rhode Island governor, along with an Independent candidate, say they'll back a gay marriage bill.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch and General Treasurer Frank Caprio, along with Senator Lincoln Chafee, the Independent, have agreed they'll sign a gay marriage bill if elected, gay rights group Marriage Equality Rhode Island announced Monday. The three candidates will make their pledge at a Statehouse rally scheduled for March 3.

The state's two Republican candidates oppose giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

Rhode Island is the only New England state that has not legalized gay marriage. Last year, Maine lawmakers approved a gay marriage bill, but opponents successfully repealed the law after a difficult fight that drew national attention to the tiny state.

A pro-gay marriage governor could be a game changer for Rhode Island, whose lawmakers have debated gay nuptials 13 years running.

Supporters are banking on next year's end of Republican Governor Don Carcieri's administration, which is limited to two terms, to help rebuild momentum on the issue.

“I think that it's really important that the people of Rhode Island understand that this can be a reality here sooner rather than later,” Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, told the AP. “One of the major obstacles we face right now is a veto from the governor's office, and that would be gone.”

Carcieri publicly supports placing a gay marriage ban in the Rhode Island Constitution. And last 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.

Next year, the speakership of the House is also expected to be held by a pro-gay marriage lawmaker. Gordon Fox, an openly gay man, is widely expected to replace House Speaker William Murphy, who intends to step down.