PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, May 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee’s critics are accusing him of “acting as a dictator” after signing an executive order forcing the state to recognize same-sex “marriages” conducted out-of-state.

Chafee, a former Republican U.S. Senator who changed his party affiliation to independent, signed the order on Monday. 

The measure forces Rhode Island to legally recognize the same-sex “marriages” of couples who have a ceremony conducted in another state, where such unions are recognized. The decree entitles partners to full insurance coverage, the right to list both names as “parents” on birth certificates, and other benefits.

“This is another step that gets us further down the path toward same-sex marriage,” said House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly homosexual. Fox was present at Chafee’s announcement with Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed.

“As a result of Governor Chafee’s leadership, our state has come another step closer to acknowledging that two adults in a loving and committed relationship should have their commitment to one another recognized as marriage,” stated Congressman David Cicilline.

Since 2003, some members of the state’s homosexual community have traveled to Massachusetts after that state’s supreme court imposed same-sex “marriage” on the Bay State by a 4-3 vote. In 2007, then-Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch ruled the state could legally recognize same-sex unions.

However, the state’s voters never approved such a measure. A bill to redefine marriage died last August when it could not pass the House. At the time Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence warned God “will pass judgment on our state” if the bill became law. When Fox announced the bill’s demise, a homosexual activist denounced him as “a self-loathing homophobe.”

A bill legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Rhode Island is not expected to pass this year, either.

Kara Russo, a traditional marriage supporter who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, told LifeSiteNews.com that Chafee “brazenly and unconstitutionally circumvented the Rhode Island General Assembly by issuing an executive order that, among other things, grants health care, life insurance, and pension benefits to same-sex couples who were married out of state.”

Russo said, “This governor is acting as a dictator and infringing upon the religious freedom of all Rhode Island citizens by forcing” the institution on the state’s voters against their will.

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Chris Young, a pro-family Congressional candidate from Providence, told LifeSiteNews.com that Chafee was “forcing same sex ‘marriage’ without the approval of the people, and this is completely contrary to the principles of a democratic republic.”

Some of the governor’s political rivals, not all of whom oppose his stance on marriage, have criticized what they say is his reliance on executive orders and a perceived tendency to enact laws he cannot get passed because they lack popular support.

“This is the same governor who bypassed the will of the Rhode Island legislature last September by issuing an executive order to force Rhode Island taxpayer funding of abortion through a health care exchange, the same governor who refused to call the state Christmas tree a Christmas tree, and the same governor who was in support of the atheist plaintiff and the Rhode Island ACLU’s campaign to tear down the 50-year-old, historic prayer banner at Cranston West High School,” Russo told LifeSiteNews.

In March, the Alliance Defense Fund sued Chafee for issuing an executive order to create a health care exchange under ObamaCare that would fund elective abortion.

Russo and Young, who are Catholic songwriters, have marriage plans of their own. Young proposed to Russo during a televised 2010 Providence mayoral debate.