Rhode Island Gov. Chafee called on Monday for legislation allowing gays to marry to be passed quickly.
Chafee said the law is critical to helping bolster the Ocean State’s economy and in keeping with its founding principles, the Providence Journal reports
"I urge the leaders of our Assembly to call the roll. Call the roll for our economy. Call the roll for our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors,’’ Chafee said in a speech at a Providence church.
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His remarks come one day before state lawmakers begin hearings on a gay marriage bill.
The proposed law was introduced by state Reps. Arthur Handy and Donna Nesselbush, both Democrats.
Chafee, a former Republican who is now an independent, was joined at the church by an umbrella group of gay and lesbian organizations called "Rhode Islanders United for Marriage."
Opponents, including the state’s Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, say if the issue must be decided, it should appear as a voter referendum.
A 2009 poll conducted by Brown University showed that 60 percent of state residents support legalizing gay marriage with 31 percent opposing it.
Rhode Island is considered one of the country’s most solidly Democratic states.
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