Vermont House Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

I blogged last week on Wednesday that the state of Vermont appeared poised to pass legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. The Vermont State Senate passed the bill by a vote of 26-4. Well yesterday, the Vermont House passed the same bill by 95-52. Although this was the expected outcome, it’s still important to recognize the significance of the event.

The bad news however, is that Vermont’s Republican governor, Jim Douglas, opposes the bill and has even called it a “distraction.” And although significant, the House's vote of 95-52 is not enough to override the veto which Douglas has said he intends to bring. In a letter written last week, Douglas asserted, “I believe our civil-union law serves Vermont well and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same-sex unions. But, like President Obama and other leaders on both sides of the aisle, I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.”

Democratic Vermont Senate President Peter Shumlin, who is the main sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill, has described Douglas’ decision as “cowardly.” He says, “You cannot veto love and commitment between two people. This is a civil-rights issue. It is time for the governor to show some courage.”

Douglas’ override could come as early as next Tuesday. We’ll keep you up-to-date on what happens. As a reminder, only Massachusetts and Connecticut have passed same-sex marriage laws, while several other states have civil-union laws.