Same-Sex Marriage Bill-Signing Marks a Bright Day for Lincoln Chafee

May 2, 2013

Chafee visiting with centenarians Thursday in advance of his big moment
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee has faced more than his share of stormy political weather since squeaking his way into office in November 2010, with less than 40 percent of the statewide vote.

The state's disastrous investment in 38 Studios blew up on his watch. Unemployment, even with recent declines, has remained high. Chafee has suffered his own self-inflicted wounds, and his persistently sub-30 percent approval rating leaves open the possibility that he could be a one-term governor.

Yet Thursday is a day that Chafee is bound to view as a signal accomplishment, with credit going far and wide, from the present to the past, from public officials to grassroots activists. It marks the fruition of an almost 2o-year battle to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island -- a cause emphasized by the governor when he was inaugurated in January 2011. And you couldn't ask for better, more promising weather on this sunny spring day.

Chafee quietly worked behind the scenes to help this day come about, and he's shouting his excitement far and wide, from The New York Times to a statement distributed by his office:

This truly is a historic day for our great state. I hope you can join me at the State House tonight at 5:45 p.m. to help celebrate Rhode Island’s proud history of independence and freedom and our bright future of tolerance and acceptance.

Chafee, as we know, is an unusual and sometimes frustrating political creature. Yet he's arguably been on the right side on some of the big issues of our time, like when he was the only Republican in the US Senate to oppose the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Those Rhode Islanders who believe in tolerance and equality will shower their approval on Chafee this evening, in a moment the governor will likely carry close for years to come.