Gov. Lincoln Chafee is using some of the choicest real estate in all of American journalism – the New York Times op-ed page – to make his case about why he’ll be making the right move Thursday when he signs into law a bill allowing same-sex marriage (presuming it passes the House).
Chafee’s 1,200-word opinion piece – “Why I Am Signing Marriage Equality Into Law” – lays out clearly and succinctly the case the governor has been making since his inaugural speech in 2011: that allowing gays and lesbians to wed in Rhode Island will fit with the state’s history of tolerance and benefit its economy to boot. He also goes out of his way to praise the Rhode Island Senate’s GOP caucus for backing the bill, and makes a point of highlighting some of the brighter spots in the state’s economy.
This isn’t Chafee’s first foray onto the Times’ opinion page. In February 2010, just after he launched his successful campaign for governor, he published a piece called “Goodbye to All That” that suggested, following Evan Bayh’s disillusioned departure from the U.S. Senate, the need for a third political party.
One bit of political trivia that’s still unresolved: when exactly did Chafee actually start expressing support for same-sex marriage? Chafee notes in his op-ed that he opposed President Bush’s proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2004, but at that point he only supported civil unions; during Chafee’s 2006 re-election campaign, however, he was on record supporting full marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
Whatever the case, Chafee supported same-sex nuptials long before most Democrats, let alone Republicans.