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
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
“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.
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.