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BREAKING: Chafee Signs Executive Order Recognizing Out-of-State Gay Marriages

Monday, May 14, 2012


Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today signed Executive Order 12-02, directing all state departments, agencies, and offices to recognize the lawful marriages of same-sex couples as valid for any purpose arising in the execution of their duties and to review their operations and take all actions necessary to extend respect to these marriages to the fullest extent permitted by law. The Governor’s action represents a continuation of current state law and is consistent with the opinion issued by the Attorney General in 2007 stating that recognizing the valid marriages of same-sex couples does not violate Rhode Island public policy.

Governor Chafee was joined at the State House signing ceremony by a number of Rhode Islanders who have experienced difficulty in performing routine business with the state.

“Today, I am signing Executive Order 12-02 to make it clear that Rhode Island recognizes and respects out-of-state same-sex marriages,” Governor Chafee said. “Despite long-standing Rhode Island law respecting out-of-state marriages, and a formal 2007 opinion from the Attorney General, there remains confusion and inconsistency within state departments and agencies regarding the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. Far too many Rhode Island couples have encountered problems with the state failing to consistently recognize the validity of their marriage, causing unnecessary difficulty, anxiety, and expense. This executive order sends a clear message to married Rhode Islanders, regardless of their sexual orientation, that they can and should rely on their marriage to protect them and their families in important ways.”

Deborah Tevyaw and Martha and Patricia Holt-Castle joined the Governor at the signing ceremony. Deborah is the widow of Pat Baker, a career corrections officer who passed away last August after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. She spent the last months of her life lobbying members of the General Assembly to pass marriage equality. Pat and Deb were married for six years. After Pat died, Deb received a death certificate from the Department of Health that was inaccurate - it listed Pat as not being married and only included Deb as being the “source of information” relative to Pat’s passing. They were legally married for six years. Additionally, Deb encountered significant problems at the DMV when trying to transfer the title of the car her and Pat owned, which had been registered under Pat’s name. Pat was represented by GLAD, who advocated on her behalf to the governor’s office, and eventually the death certificate was corrected and the transfer was allowed to go through.

“I know that Pat is watching today, and I know that she is very proud of this moment,” Deborah said.

Martha and Patricia Holt-Castle live in Pawtucket and have been married for almost five years. In 2010, they had their first son, Tobin. Martha gave birth to Tobin, but when they tried to have her wife Patricia's name added to his birth certificate, they were told by the staff at Women and Infant's Hospital that was not allowable. Martha and Patricia were legally married in Massachusetts.

“This obviously means a great deal to both Patty and me and is another way the state recognizes our family,” Martha said. “This brings a level of security to our family in a chaotic time in the days and weeks following a birth and is one less thing we have to worry about.”


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