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RI's first lady to perform civil union

October 21, 2011

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island first lady Stephanie Chafee (CHAY'-fee) is planning to perform a civil union ceremony for two friends.

Lynn McKinney and Ron Margolin first asked Gov. Lincoln Chafee to officiate at their Nov. 5 ceremony in Newport, but he plans to be in Israel for an economic development trip.

McKinney and Margolin have been partners for 32 years. They are political supporters of Chafee.

McKinney says the Chafees are long-time advocates for the gay and lesbian community. Stephanie Chafee was one of the first nurses in Rhode Island to work with AIDS patients.

Lawmakers routinely authorize people who aren't judges or members of the clergy to perform marriages. This is the first time lawmakers have approved a civil union ceremony request. The legislature approved civil unions for gay couples this year.