Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee spoke at a statehouse ceremony today and declared that the state will recognize all same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, according to the Associated Press, directing state agencies to essentially treat same-sex married couples the same as heterosexual ones.
The AP reports that the law in Rhode Island has been unclear on how to handle these couples as the state allows civil unions but not same-sex marriages
The move gives same-sex couples all the same rights as opposite-sex couples, so now same-sex couples in Rhode Island can both be on a child's birth certificate, spouses of employees covered by insurance companies regulated in Rhode Island will be entitled to health and life insurance benefits, and same-sex couples will be entitled to sales tax exemptions on the transfer of property including vehicles, according to The Washington Post.
Igor Volsky of Think Progress wrote earlier this month that Rhode Island's civil union law has been "a complete failure" in part because all the neighboring states offer legal same-sex marriage. A state House committee, says Volsky, is considering legislation to establish marriage equality in the Rhode Island or at least remove a religious exemption to the current civil union law. Yesterday, Chafee — who has publicly supported marriage equality since his election — told audiences that he didn't expect a marriage equality bill to pass in Rhode Island this legislative session.