Vermont Senate to Vote on Marriage Bill
March 23, 2009
From HRC State Legislative Director Chris Edelson and Wade Miller, a member of HRC's field team: Less than ten years ago, Vermont became the first state to recognize civil unions. Though progress toward equality can seem unbearably slow at times; however, it’s amazing to think about how quickly, in relative terms, some progress is taking place. Now, less than a decade after anyone had even heard of “civil unions”, Vermont is looking to join Massachusetts and Connecticut as the third state to provide gay and lesbian couples with marriage equality under state law. The Vermont state Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on S. 115, a bill that would recognize marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in the state. Last Friday, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin (who spearheaded the civil unions bill 9 years ago) and House Speaker Shap Smith have said the marriage bill is one of their priorities. If the legislation is enacted into law, Vermont would be the first state to approve same-sex marriage without a court order to do so (California’s legislature has twice passed marriage equality bills, but each has been vetoed). A key question will be what Governor Jim Douglas does if the legislation reaches his desk. Both legislative chambers are expected to pass the measure. As mentioned, the Senate is expected to debate and vote on the bill tomorrow. The House Judiciary Committee would then start taking testimony on the bill and could vote as soon as next week, sending the bill to the full House. Gov. Douglas has criticized the bill but has declined to say whether he will veto it if it reaches his desk and last week said that the legislature should act quickly on the bill. If approved, Vermont would join Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only U.S. states that allow lesbian and gay couples to marry. Civil unions would still be recognized but no longer granted after September 1 2009, when the legislation would become effective. We’re following this bill very closely and National Field Director (and former Vermont resident) Marty Rouse has been speaking with state legislators about the bill’s progress. Let’s hope that we’ll soon be able to celebrate marriage equality in a third state—and hopefully, soon with more to come! *TAKE ACTION*: Vermont residents, use HRC's action alert to contact your state legislators in support of the marriage bill. **UPDATE**: The Vermont Senate decided this afternoon in a bipartisan vote of 26-4 to support S. 115. The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives. If you live in Vermont, surf over toVermont Freedom to Marry to send a thank you email to the senators who voted in favor of marriage equality.
May 17, 2013