Recognition of out-of-state unions goes beyond "support" of same-sex marriage
Lincoln Chafee has been a supporter of gay marriage. When he ran for governor, he promised, for example, that he would not only sign marriage equality legislation, but champion it.
He included a pledge to support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law dictating that marriage can only be defined as the union of a man and a women.
Since he took office, Chafee has been vocal in his support for gay marriage. The marriage equality law was the only piece of legislation he specifically mentioned in his inaugural address.
Last year, Chafee endorsed such legislation in the General Assembly. When the assembly balked, choosing to pass a civil union law instead, Chafee signed it on July 2, 2011, with some reluctance because, he said, it "fails to fully achieve" the goals of giving same-sex couples "the same legal rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as heterosexual couples."
On May 14, Chafee took another step, issuing an executive order decreeing that same-sex marriages executed in states where it is legal be given the same status in Rhode Island as heterosexual marriages.
While the order grants married same-sex couples many rights and benefits that heterosexual couples have, such as insurance coverage and property rights, it doesn"t grant them all. For example, due to a state Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples can"t file for divorce in Rhode Island.
Chafee has also lobbied against the Defense of Marriage Act, even though it is outside his jurisdiction.
In November, he joined the governors of New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont, and the mayors of New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Hartford and Bridgeport in signing a letter to Patrick Leahy, Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the committee to approve legislation that would overturn DOMA.
In the end, Chafee never promised to make same-sex marriage a reality in Rhode Island or to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law over which he has no jurisdiction. He just pledged to support such efforts.
He has joined other governors in lobbying for the repeal of DOMA, signed legislation for state civil unions as an initial step toward full marriage equality, and taken administrative action to give same-sex couples married in other states many of the same rights as other married couples.
That's enough to give him a Promise Kept.
The Providence Journal, "R.I recognizes gay marriages," May 15, 2012, and "Chafee signs civil unions bill into law," July 3, 2011
Governor.RI.gov, "Governor Lincoln Chafee Inaugural Address," January 4, 2011, accessed May 15, 2012
ProvidenceJournal.com, "Executive Order, 12-02, "Recognition of Out of State, Same-Sex Marriages," May 14, 2012, accessed May 14, 2012
Governor.Vermont.gov, "Gov. Shumlin, bipartisan leaders, urge Senate Judiciary Committee to repeal DOMA," Nov. 10, 2011, accessed May 15, 2012