MONTPELIER, Vt.— Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will travel to Rhode Island this week at the invitation of gay marriage supporters to talk about Vermont’s experience as the first state to offer civil unions and its later transition to allowing marriage for same-sex couples.

Vermont was the first U.S. state to offer legal recognition to same-sex couples when it passed its civil union law in 2000. In 2009, it became the first state in the country to offer those couples full marriage solely on the Legislature’s say-so and without a court’s involvement. Shumlin was president pro tem of the Senate on both occasions.

“We have a wonderful story to tell,” Shumlin said in an interview Monday.”We were the first state in the country to do the right thing, just because it was the right thing to do. … There were those who thought the sky would fall in, but we did the right thing and the sky never fell.”

The governor’s trip, which is planned for Thursday, comes after an invitation from the pro-gay marriage group Marriage Equality Rhode Island. Shumlin will meet with Gov. Lincoln Chafee and with legislative leaders in Providence.

Rhode Island lawmakers have debated gay marriage for years, but chances for the bill to pass this year seem better than ever. Chafee has been a longtime supporter of gay marriage and House Speaker Gordon Fox is gay and a co-sponsor of the bill.

Gay marriage supporters in both Vermont and Rhode Island praised Shumlin’s decision to make the trip.