Rhode Island's present governor, Donald Carcieri, outraged many LGBT supporters when he vetoed a bill that would have allowed for burial rights for the surviving parter of gay couples. A term limits law prohibits Carcieri from running again.
Although it's unfortunate that a man such as Chafee felt the need to leave the Republican Party, it's quite understandable why he took that step. He has been driven out of his own party because he doesn't always follow the party line. Take, for instance, his views on same-sex marriage, as he wrote for the Huffington Post:
To me, the issue of same-sex marriage boils down to a question of basic fairness. We all know someone who is openly gay or lesbian. Gays and lesbians have contributed to the diverse fabric of Rhode Island and the rest of the country for generations, strengthening our communities in innumerable ways. Far too often, same-sex marriage has been used as a wedge issue to divide and distract us from the bigger problems we face as a nation.I don't know the Democrats in this race for Governor, but I can say that I'm awfully glad Lincoln Chafee hasn't retired from politics.