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