Governor Lincoln D. Chafee will participate in a panel discussion moderated by New York Times bestselling author and CNBC host Suze Orman tomorrow on the economic harms of marriage inequality. The discussion is sponsored by the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a coalition of more than 80 organizations supporting the freedom to marry, and will be held at New York University. The panel will also feature two same-sex couples who will share their experiences and Nanette Lee Miller, Marcum LLP's West Coast Partner-In-Charge of Assurance Services and national leader of Marcum LLP's LGBT practice group. Miller will share her firm's recently released interactive map tracking marriage for same-sex couples by state and elaborate on the economic harms to a very important part of the nation's workforce. Governor Chafee has been a vocal and consistent proponent of marriage equality, calling for its passage in his 2011 inaugural address and his State of the State address in January.
He is believed to be the only sitting U.S. Governor to call for marriage equality in an inaugural address. In May of last year, the Governor issued an executive order requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Governor Chafee has strongly emphasized not only the important civil rights issues at stake, but also the economic development implications of fostering a climate of tolerance. In his State of the State address last month, the Governor said: "In this climate of intense economic competition, as we work to attract the best and brightest, we are currently at an economic disadvantage with our neighbors. For our economic development, for civil rights, and for basic fairness, we must extend the rights and benefits of marriage to all Rhode Islanders." The Governor's participation in the panel discussion comes the day after the launch of Rhode Island Business Leaders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of business leaders who recognize the significant and positive impact marriage equality will have on the Ocean State's economy. Earlier this month, the Board of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to issue a statement recognizing the economic benefits of marriage equality and noting the competitive disadvantages that come with being the only New England state without equal marriage rights. For more details, please visit http://www.respectformarriage.org/