After the Catholic Church on Friday issued a statement of disapproval, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and House Speaker Gordon Fox reiterated their commitment to legalizing gay marriage, the Providence Journal reported.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence chided Chafee for supporting the issue, saying he was being “divisive.”

“The push to legalize the marriage of homosexual persons is morally wrong and detrimental to the well-being of our state,” Tobin said in a statement.

Chafee, who during his inauguration speech on Tuesday had argued that legalizing the institution would benefit the state economically, reiterated his commitment to its legalization.

“The status quo economically is not working. Our foundation here in Rhode Island was built on tolerance and acceptance and this is an area I want to move our state forward on, by building on our strengths of centuries ago," Chafee, the state's first independent governor, said. "Let's give marriage equality a chance to grow our state … I don't want to be divisive.”

Tobin also called on lawmakers to let voters decide the issue, an idea House Speaker Gordon Fox has previously rejected.

Fox, who is openly gay, also rejected the argument that the debate was being rushed.

“This has been debated for decades, and it will be debated [again],” Fox said. “No one is saying just because we want it early in the session that it's not going to get a full debate. Of course it's going to get a full debate.”

A bill that would legalize gay marriage has been considered by Rhode Island lawmakers every year since 1997. A similar measure was introduced on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline was sworn in, becoming the fourth openly gay member of Congress.