Vermont Becomes Fourth State to Legalize Gay Marriage

Postby Wizard CaT » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:42 pm

AP wrote:MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont Tuesday became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage -- and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House voted 100-49 – the minimum number required -- to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5. Both houses of the legislature required a two-thirds vote in favor of overriding the veto.

Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry. The other states' approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

Tuesday morning's legislative action came less than a day after Mr. Douglas issued a veto message saying the bill wouldn't improve the lot of gay and lesbian couples because it still wouldn't provide them rights under federal and other states' laws.

Mr. Douglas called the override "not unexpected." He had called the issue of gay marriage a distraction during a time when economic and budget issues were more important.

"What really disappoints me is that we have spent some time on an issue during which another thousand Vermonters have lost their jobs," the governor said Tuesday. "We need to turn out attention to balancing a budget without raising taxes, growing the economy, putting more people to work."

House Speaker Shap Smith's announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays.

Among the celebrants in the lobby were former Democratic Rep. Robert Dostis and his longtime partner, Chuck Kletecka. Mr. Dostis recalled efforts to expand gay rights dating to an antidiscrimination law passed in 1992.

"It's been a very long battle. It's been almost 20 years to get to this point," Mr. Dostis said. "It think finally, most people in Vermont understand that we're a couple like any other couple. We're as good and as bad as any other group of people. And now I think we have a chance to prove ourselves here on forward that we're good members of our community."

Mr. Dostis said he and Mr. Kletecka will celebrate their 25th year together in September.

"Is that a proposal?" Mr. Kletecka asked.

"Yeah," Mr. Dostis replied. "Twenty-five years together, I think it's time we finally got married."

Craig Bensen, a gay-marriage opponent who had lobbied unsuccessfully for a nonbinding referendum on the question, said he was disappointed but believed gay-marriage opponents were outspent by supporters by a 20-1 margin.

"The other side had a highly funded, extremely well-oiled machine with all the political leadership except the governor pushing to make this happen," he said. "The fact that it came down to this tight a vote is really astounding."

The House had initially approved the bill last week with a 95-52 vote. Mr. Smith and his leadership team worked through the weekend to try to persuade some legislators to change their minds.

One who did was first-term Rep. Jeff Young, a Democrat. He said he continued to be philosophically opposed to gay marriage but decided that voting with his fellow Democrats would help him be an effective legislator in the future.

"You realize that, you know, it's a poker game in some ways," Mr. Young said. "Chips on the table. I'm a freshman. I have no chips. If I...had 20 years of chips, I probably could play any card I want. I don't have that option."

He added, "It's the way the political game is played."

Separately, the Iowa Supreme Court is delaying the date when same-sex couples can begin filing for marriage licenses because of budget cuts.

Court spokesman Steve Davis said Tuesday that people can file for licenses beginning Monday, April 27. That's three days after the previously announced date of April 24.

Mr. Davis said the court opted for the delay because April 24 was designated as a furlough day, when courts will close to save money because of budget cuts. It's one of eight days the state's courts will close before the end of the fiscal year June 30. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled last Friday that a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of equal protection, opening the door to same-sex marriage.

Also Tuesday, the city council of Washington, D.C., unanimously approved a bill that would recognize gay marriages performed in other. Before becoming law, the legislation requires a final vote next month by the District of Columbia Council. The bill must then be reviewed by Congress, which has final say over the city's laws.

Lawmakers say Tuesday's vote brings the city a step closer to eventually allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in Washington. Gay couples married in other states are currently recognized as domestic partners when they move to the city.

New York also recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere but hasn't allowed them in the state.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press
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Re: Vermont Becomes Fourth State to Legalize Gay Marriage

Postby Alfador » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:59 am

Craig Bensen, a gay-marriage opponent who had lobbied unsuccessfully for a nonbinding referendum on the question, said he was disappointed but believed gay-marriage opponents were outspent by supporters by a 20-1 margin.

"The other side had a highly funded, extremely well-oiled machine with all the political leadership except the governor pushing to make this happen," he said.


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