Is almost as nice as doing the right thing:
ON Thursday, the Rhode Island House of Representatives is expected to approve legislation to extend the right to marry to all Rhode Islanders, regardless of sexual orientation. I plan to sign the Marriage Equality Act into law immediately after the vote, on the steps of the Rhode Island State House, overlooking downtown Providence. This is the same spot where, in my 2011 inaugural address, I called for Rhode Island to embrace marriage equality.
Signing the bill will be gratifying for many reasons. When I first defended gay marriage in 2004, as a Republican United States senator, most of my party colleagues were extreme in their opposition. In fact, to draw a line in the sand, they scheduled a vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in June 2006 — just before the height of a campaign season.
In the end, only six Republican senators joined me in opposing the amendment: Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter and John E. Sununu. Of those, only Mr. McCain and Ms. Collins remain in the Senate. Even many of those Republicans opposing a constitutional ban avoided taking a position on gay marriage by saying it was an issue best left to the states. But I went further and announced my support for full marriage equality.
I was one of only four members of the entire Senate to take that stand, along with Senators Ron Wyden, Edward M. Kennedy and Russell Feingold — three of the most socially liberal members of the chamber at the time. Hardly common company for a Republican.
As it turned out, I did lose office in 2006, as part of the general rejection of Republican leadership that year. But I was elected governor as an independent in 2010, and I was proud to see that my stand on gay marriage stood up well over the years.
Good for you, Mr. Gov. Chafee. If there were more like you in the GOP, this would be a better country.