Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Monday ((14 May) signed an order which requires the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere even though the state itself does not have marriage equality.
Chafee’s action entitles same-sex couples to the same benefits as straight couples including health insurance, life insurance and being able to list the names of both parents on a birth certificate.
Marriage Equality Rhode Island Campaign Director Ray Sullivan said such a step was necessary because same-sex couples have encountered problems with the state refusing to recognize the validity of their marriage and he said this has caused ‘harm, confusion, unnecessary expense, and heartache.’
The three states that border Rhode Island – New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts – all allow same-sex marriage in addition to the District of Columbia, Iowa and Vermont. The states of Washington and Maryland legalized the marriages earlier this year but those laws have yet to take effect.
According to the Associated Press, Chafee will continue to fight for marriage equality in his state: ‘We’re overdue, way overdue.’
Sullivan applauded the governor’s action.
‘This is a great and historic day for Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee is now the first governor in the country to sign an executive order providing critical clarity and direction to government agencies regarding the recognition of same-sex, out-of-state marriages,’ he said in a statement. ‘While this moves us closer to full marriage-equality, nothing less is sufficient, and we will keep fighting.’