Friday, April 3, 2009

Vermont -- So Close and Yet So Far

by Laura Smith-Gary

I've been following this struggle and gnashing my teeth for days now. In Vermont (yep, we're back in New England) we've got a whole different power conflict going on over same-sex couples marrying -- this is legislative power vs. executive power.

Vermont was the first state to pass a bill allowing gay and lesbian couples to have full civil unions, and both the Vermont House and Senate have overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage. Their last procedural vote will happen today, then the bill will go to the desk of Governor Jim Douglas -- who says he will veto it. It's too distracting, ya know? We've got this whole economy thing going on. No time for a quick signature.

The Vermont Senate voted 26-4 in favor of the same-sex marriage bill, and the House passed it 95-52: they are five votes short of overriding the impending veto. According to the Reuters story I linked above, many nay-voting legislators apologized to their gay and lesbian friends but said they were responding to the will of their constituents -- or at least, you know, the loudest ones. (If you live in Vermont, call your state representatives and tell them to vote yes!) Though naturally they do need to listen to the people they represent, I am deeply tempted to call down Edmund Burke upon their heads.

There's much more teeth-gnashing I could do about this, but I'm choosing to be excited about Iowa today. Citizens of Vermont: call your legislators and let them know that some of their constituents support equal marriage rights, and crush Governor Douglas's hay-making attempts.


At April 7, 2009 at 12:02 PM , Blogger LSG said...

They did it they did it they did it!

Vermont overrides the governor's veto! Gay marriage is now legal. Woohooo!

At April 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM , Blogger LSG said...

In my excitement, I posted that comment before adding my thoughtful commentary. :)

The reason this particular victory is so important is because it came from the legislature, and was overwhelming. In other states where gay marriage is legal -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, and most recently Iowa -- the victory has come from the courts. The narrative the anti-gay marriage activists have been trying to sell us, based on that fact, is "The People are against gay marriage, it's just those Damn Activist Judges." The Proposition 8 ordeal in California, in which the courts decreed gay marriage legal and voters then decreed it illegal, reinforced this narrative in many people's minds.

In Vermont, though, The People's elected legislature just slam-dunked legalizing gay marriage. I support the courts supporting the rights of minorities, but this victory shows a sea change in popular opinion, and in my opinion is one of the most important triumphs yet.


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