Rhode Island to Recognize Gay Marriages Performed in Massachusetts

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The state of Rhode Island should recognize the gay marriages of state employees performed in Massachusetts and extend the same benefits, Attorney General Patrick Lynch said in a letter to a state department.

"Rhode Island will recognize same sex marriages lawfully performed in Massachusetts as marriages in Rhode Island," Lynch said in a letter dated Tuesday and released Wednesday.

He said Rhode Island prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and also extends benefits such as health insurance to domestic partners of state employees. He said that with the absence of a law banning gay marriage, there's no strong reason to deny recognition to gay marriages performed in Massachusetts, the only state where such unions are legal.

Michael Healey, a spokesman for Lynch, said the opinion was not binding, but Michele Granda, a staff attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said she expected most government agencies in Rhode Island to heed the legal advice of the state's top lawyer.