Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox has said a compromise on gay marriage was a difficult decision.

“I made the right decision, as hard as it is,” Fox told WPRO radio of his decision to back away from a marriage bill and push for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the civil unions bill into law, making Rhode Island the fifth state behind Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey and Delaware to offer the union.

Fox insisted he's a supporter of gay marriage: “I will state for the record: I am unequivocally a full supporter of marriage equality. Haven't wavered from that. Will not waver from that. And have never done anything, or hopefully said anything, that gave anyone the impression that I've somehow walked away from that position, or turned my back on that position.”

The openly gay lawmaker stirred controversy when he dropped support for a marriage bill in favor civil unions after it became clear that full marriage would not clear the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Civil unions, he insisted on Tuesday, are a “step in the right direction.”

Fox also urged proponents of gay marriage to “stay focused on the fight.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)