If you’re looking to get a personalized license plate design in Rhode Island, there are a number of charities you could benefit: veterans, firefighters, groups fighting breast cancer, etc.
Until recently, though, no religious group ever received money.
Thanks to Governor Lincoln Chafee, it’s going to stay that way.
Yesterday, Chafee vetoed legislation that would have authorized a “Choose Life” plate design with some of the proceeds benefitting CareNet, a Christian anti-abortion crisis center with a mission to “share the love and truth of Jesus Christ.”
In his veto message, Chafee wrote: “This bill compels the state to collect and distribute funds to an organization that advocates a particular religious and political viewpoint. It is my belief that state participation in the transmission of funds to this organization would violate the separation of church and state, one of the fundamental principles upon which our state was founded.”
While religious groups are complaining that he’s stifling their free speech (which is crazy, since they’re welcome to put pro-life bumper stickers on their cars or donate to the Christian groups directly), Chafee’s consistent on the matter — it’s not like there are pro-choice or non-Christian plates available for purchase.
As any government official who has seen religious free-for-alls during the December holidays can attest, it’s just easier to say no to all religious and non-religious groups than to open the floodgates for everyone.
Chafee may have served on the NARAL Pro-Choice America board of directors in the past, but this decision was the right one regardless of his personal politics.