Rhode Island Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee has declined an anti-gay marriage group's plea to consider putting gay marriage up for a vote, the Providence Journal reported.

Christopher Planet, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), told the paper that a meeting with Chafee aide Michael Trainor gave him the impression that the incoming administration was open to talking with opponents of gay marriage and was shocked when he received a letter nixing the idea.

“The governor elect feels that the issue should be addressed as soon as possible by the General Assembly, and does not believe that the question should be decided by a ballot referendum,” Trainor wrote. Chafee believes that “Marriage equality is a basic right that should be extended to all Rhode Islanders – a question not only of fairness and justice, but of economic development as well.”

Chafee, a former U.S. senator and an independent, pledged his support for gay marriage during the campaign to succeed anti-gay marriage Governor Don Carcieri, a term-limited Republican.

“I was surprised,” Planet told the paper, “because Mr. Trainor indicated that he thought that Governor-elect Chafee would sit down at the table with all parties … I left there thinking that maybe we'll get a roundtable.”

New Jersey-based NOM has previously backed efforts to repeal gay marriage laws in Maine and California. The group is currently working to capsize a bill that would recognize gay couples with civil unions being considered by Illinois lawmakers.

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.