Legal gay marriage is closer to becoming a reality in Rhode Island with Tuesday's election of Lincoln Chafee as governor.

Chafee, a former U.S. Senator, is the first independent elected governor of the state, the AP reported.

The former Republican defeated Democratic General Treasurer Frank Caprio, Republican John Robitaille and Moderate Party founder Ken Block to succeed anti-gay marriage Governor Don Carcieri, a Republican.

Chafee, Caprio and Block had been endorsed by the state's largest gay marriage advocate, Marriage Equality Rhode Island PAC (MERI PAC). Robitaille has said he opposes gay marriage.

“The impact of this election is monumental,” Patrick Smock, chair of MERI PAC, said in a statement, referring to Chafee's win.

But last week, Caprio lost the group's endorsement after the 44-year-old politician tweeted to his followers on the subject.

“Gay Marriage: In favor of it going on the ballot, would sign it into law if it passed the general assembly.”

Smock chided Caprio in an email to supporters.

“Favoring a ballot initiative and supporting the legislative process are two completely different positions,” Smock wrote. “Mr. Caprio can't have it both ways.”

Chafee is a strong supporter of gay marriage.

Legislators in Rhode Island have considered a gay marriage bill every year since 1997. Supporters are banking on a pro-gay marriage governor to help build momentum in the next legislative session.