Obama Endorses Rhode Island Marriage Equality As Governor Rebuffs Proposed Referendum

Today, President Obama endorsed legislative efforts to pass marriage equality in the state of Rhode Island. White House spokesperson Shin Inouye provided the following statement to the Washington Blade:

INOUYE: 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. 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.

Obama similarly expressed support for marriage equality legislation in Illinois last month.

In addition to the House and Senate bills to pass marriage equality in Rhode Island, state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D) plans to introduce a bill to put the question to a voter referendum. This option would lead to expensive campaigns that damage the mental health of the state’s LGBT community. As such, Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) has said that he would veto a referendum bill because he believes lawmakers are elected to make such decisions.

Recognizing that the state’s civil unions were a “complete failure,” Chafee issued an executive order last May requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. An October poll showed that 56 percent of Rhode Island voters support marriage equality.