Rhode Island

R.I. governor orders state recognition of legally married same-sex couples

Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee on Monday issued an executive order directing state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state as legal, and to treat married same-sex couples in the same manner as married heterosexual couples.

Lincoln Chafee

Chafee’s executive order is a “follow through” on a 2007 non-binding opinion by then-Attorney General Patrick Lynch, which favored recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, reported the Associated Press.

The executive order is expected to have many real-world implications.

Same-sex spouses of state employees and anyone covered by an insurance company regulated in Rhode Island will be entitled to health and life insurance benefits, gay rights advocates say.

Both partners in a same-sex couple will be able to list their names as parents on a child’s birth certificate, and same-sex couples will be entitled to sales tax exemptions on the transfer of property including vehicles.

Chafee signed the order in a ceremony before an audience gathered in the Rhode Island Statehouse, that included many same-sex married couples who enthusiastically cheered when the governor appeared.

Ray Sullivan, executive director of the group Marriage Equality Rhode Island, called the executive order “significant” and “bold.”

Chafee said his order is an important step, but added that he would continue to press for Rhode Island to legalize marriage for same-sex couples — currently, Rhode Island only allows civil unions between gay couples.

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