Rhode Island’s governor on Monday declared that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, giving gay couples the same rights as heterosexual ones when it comes to health insurance and a slew of other benefits.
The order signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in a Statehouse ceremony directs state agencies to recognize marriages performed out of state as legal and treat same-sex married couples the same as heterosexual ones.
...A spokesman for the state chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said in a statement that his group is deeply concerned about Chafee’s action.
“To issue an executive order recognizing same-sex marriage flies in the face of the clearly expressed actions of the legislature and the people,” said Christopher C. Plante, regional coordinator for the group.
Fierce opposition from some people last year prompted the Legislature to abandon a bill that would have legalized gay marriage and approve civil unions instead. Plante also said it appears Chafee is trying to override a 2007 high court ruling that a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts could not get divorced in Rhode Island because state law only contemplated divorce between a husband and wife.