Lincoln Chafee
Rhode Island Governor Says He Won't Put Marriage Up for Referendum

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com January 10 2013 3:17 PM ET

Hopes by some to put marriage equality up to a vote by Rhode Island's citizens instead of its lawmakers got a big setback today.

Democratic state senator Frank Ciccone had suggested introducing a bill that would put marriage equality up to a statewide vote. But Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Thursday, according to the Providence Journal, that he would veto such a bill.

The Providence Journal reports, "Chafee, a same-sex marriage supporter, said he believes lawmakers are elected to make such decisions and should be allowed to decide the issue of same-sex marriage."

All remaining signs point to Rhode Island being among the next states to legalize same-sex marriage. One the main obstacles to passage had been Senate president M. Teresa Paiva Weed, who now supports holding a vote on the bill. And House speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay, also plans to hold a vote.

Chafee and other supporters face the regular cast of characters in pushback in their state, including a Providence Catholic bishop, Thomas Tobin, who wrote an editorial this month saying that establishing marriage equality would be “immoral and unnecessary.” The bishop called for a delay in the vote on marriage equality.

“Why is Rhode Island spending time and energy on this issue right now when the Supreme Court might make the decision for us?” he asked. “Let's wait and see what the Supreme Court determines before we engage in this emotionally charged and divisive battle once again.”