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Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates promise support of gay marriage

Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates promise support of gay marriage

Three candidates running for Rhode Island governor have promised to sign a gay marriage bill should it reach their desk if they are elected.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch and General Treasurer Frank Caprio, both Democrats, and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, have been invited by Marriage Equality Rhode Island to make their pledge public at a rally at the Statehouse on March 3.

Although the three candidates previously have said they support gay marriage, the pledges come as gay rights activists hope to capitalize on the departure of Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, a staunch social conservative who opposes gay unions.

One of the major obstacles to pro-gay marriage legislation in Rhode Island has been the anticipated veto from the governor’s office.

Last November, Carcieri vetoed a bill allowing funeral planning rights for gay partners, and in October he delivered a “traditional marriage” address at a fund raising banquet for the anti-gay Massachusetts Family Institute. The funeral planning rights veto was later overridden by the legislature.

State law requires Carcieri to leave office after finishing his second term early next year.

Rhode Island is the only New England state besides Maine that does not recognize gay marriage.

However, three bills are pending in 2010 before the state’s General Assembly. The first bill would allow same-sex marriage, the second bill will ban same sex marriage and the third bill would provide a Reciprocal Beneficiary Agreement (similar to Hawaii and Colorado) under Rhode Island law.

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