Vermont Governor Announces Veto Threat for Marriage Bill
March 26, 2009
By Jeremy Pittman, HRC's deputy field director: Yesterday, Republican Vermont Governor Jim Douglas announced that he plans to veto marriage equality legislation should it reach his desk. You can read more and listen to his announcement here. In 2000, Vermont was the first state in the union to offer civil unions to committed lesbian and gay couples. With fellow New England states Massachusetts and Connecticut moving to full marriage equality for all couples, advocates and legislative leaders in Vermont believe it’s time for the Green Mountain State to join them. The marriage equality bill passed the State Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 26-4 last week. And a strong vote is expected in the House soon. Regular readers of Back Story may recall the story we shared with you from HRC member Jim Woodard after he was scheduled to testify in favor of marriage equality at the state capitol. Last night, Jim shared with us the message he sent to his friends, family members and colleagues after he heard about the governor’s announcement:
Family, Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues: The debate over marriage equality here in Vermont is taking up a lot of space in my head. For some of you that I'm writing to now, I don't know where you stand on this issue, but I hope it's on the "for" side, and if not, then know that I will respect your views and do not mean to intrude into your own political beliefs. The Governor announced today at a press conference that he plans to veto S.115 when it passes the House. This fills me with such tremendous sorrow and discouragement, it is difficult for me to express it in words. To so boldly assert blatant prejudice because it's still acceptable in our society to discriminate against gay and lesbian people, and to hear the Governor repeatedly refer to our campaign for equality as "a distraction" -- it literally brings me to tears. I attended the public hearing at the State House last Wednesday night, and the comments from those who stood up to oppose this legislation were deeply rooted in hate, and at times, took my breath away with their ugliness and untruths. I have dedicated most of my career to advocating for marginalized populations of all different kinds, and feel proud of the work I have done. But this debate -- this brings me to my knees. Tonight, my heart is so heavy I find it difficult to breathe. I write this not looking for pity, or to be dramatic; I write this asking you to take action. If you have not yet done so, I am personally asking you -- as your friend, your brother, your colleague, your neighbor -- to please, please take a moment and either send an email to the governor or call his office during the day tomorrow and ask him not to veto this bill. Also, if you have not contacted your state representatives, please consider sending them an email as well. In order to override his veto, we will need majority support in both the Senate and the House. I am very proud of and grateful for the local reps for Jericho/Underhill (Bill Frank and George Till) who have both stated that they will support this bill in the House. You may not think of yourself as an advocate, and you may not have ever contacted your legislator before. You don't have to be eloquent, or long-winded (leave that to me!), but you do need to speak up. Even if you just say "please don't veto S.115," it's more than saying nothing at all. You have my personal, heartfelt thanks for your support. --Jim
Vermonters can send a message to their state representatives, with a copy to the governor, by visiting http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/vtmarriagehearings.
May 23, 2013