The Bill Is In- Vermont Same-Sex Marriage Bill Introduced

2 Mar 2009

A blanket of icy snow covers Vermont's capital of Montpelier. Through the city threads the ice bound Winooski River.

This was the setting for the day when the bill which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Vermont went to the House of Representatives.

Fifty-nine of the state's one hundred eighty legislators have already signed onto the law, all of the Democrats. Several Republicans have already indicated that they will vote for the bill even though they have not signed onto it. Among the co-sponsors of the bill is Progressive Party leader David Zuckerman of Burlington.

While not a co-sponsor, Republican House Leader Patti Komline of Dorset has stated that she believes this is a civil rights mater and she will vote for the bill when it comes to the floor. The tri-partisan support of the bill is good as it is expected that not all Democrats will support the bill. There are some conservative districts which do vote for Democrats.

Nine years ago, Vermont passed the first civil union law in the country. Following the passage of the law, many of the legislators lost reelection; however, that was a far more contentious time in Vermont's history. Many Vermonters have indicated that they, if not support, have a feeling of inevitability about the passage of same-sex marriage and just want it to be over, and the political backlash may be minimal. Vermont did not descend into the Earth upon the passage of civil unions, the economy did not collapse, and marriages between men and women did not simply fall into dust as the Christian Right kept saying.

Hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage came to Montpelier to push for the passage of this bill into law.

One of them, Jamie Reddinger, stated "No one really knows what civil unions are outside of the state of Vermont but everyone knows what marriage is. It's more than a word to us; it's about our relationship and validating it." She was there with her partner Daisy Chamberlain.

In fact, enough people showed up to press Governor Douglas to pass this bill when it comes to him, that they were lined up in the hallway and not everyone could get in to see him. Douglas feels that the Assembly should remained focused on the passage of economic bills, re-licencing Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant and rewriting the sex-offender law (which is nearly finished). "I understand what their claim is but I don't think it's required or necessary and I think we're wasting a lot of time with it," said Republican Representative Andy Donaghy. He is one of the detractors on the bill believing that civil unions go far enough by granting power of attorney and other needed rights. Speaker of the House Shap Smith pointed out that there are more than one committee in the House and that they can easily debate than one bill at a time.

Senator John Campbell of Queechee believes that the bill will pass sometime this legislative session. It is unclear when the bill will be introduced into the Senate.

Currently, the Democrats have ninety-six votes in the House and twenty-three in the Senate as opposed to the forty-seven House and seven Senate votes that the Republicans have. Democrats would need four Republicans or four of the five Progressives to vote for the bill as well as all the Democrats in order to ensure a veto proof majority.

For the House it would require one hundred votes and for the Senate, twenty. The big question is about Governor Jim Douglas, who has stated repeatedly that he believes that civil unions go far enough. Douglas has three options. He can veto the bill, sign it into law, or allow it to pass into law without his signature. He may choose the latter option, especially in the face of overwhelming support for the bill in the General Assembly.


Article taken from Lez Get Real