PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Thursday that he would likely veto any attempt to put same-sex marriage to a public vote, and said state lawmakers owe it to voters to decide the issue in the legislature.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives is scheduled to vote within weeks on legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry, however opponents of same-sex marriage have expressed their support for alternative legislation that would put the question before voters.
Same-sex marriage supporters say the issue is one of civil rights and shouldn’t be decided by a vote. Rhode Island is now the only state in New England without same-sex marriage.
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White House spokesman Shin Inouye responded to the pending legislation, noting that President Barack Obama supports approval of the bill.
“While the President does not weigh in on every measure being considered by the states, he believes all couples should be treated fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” said Inouye.
“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so,” he said.
Chafee, an independent who supports marriage equality, signed a civil unions law in July 2011 with the promise that it would move Rhode Island closer to the ultimate goal of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Under an executive order signed by Chafee in May 2012, Rhode Island currently recognizes the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed elsewhere.