Human Rights Campaign Applauds Vermont Legislature's Historic Vote Recognizing Marriage for Lesbian

by HRC Staff

Vote to override Governor's veto makes Vermont first state to recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples through legislative process.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauded the Vermont legislature for voting today to recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The state Senate voted 23-5 and the House of Representatives voted 100-49 to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto, making Vermont the first state to recognize marriage for committed lesbian and gay couples through the legislative process. The Vermont legislation goes into effect September 1.

"This historic vote in the Vermont legislature reminds us of the incredible progress being made toward equality. Less than five years ago, lesbian and gay couples began marrying in Massachusetts. Now, with the Iowa court decision last Friday and today's vote in Vermont, there will be four states recognizing the right to marry for loving, committed lesbian and gay couples," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We congratulate Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, Speaker of the House Shap Smith, the other legislators who voted for marriage, the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, and MassEquality for ensuring that all couples will now enjoy the freedom to marry in Vermont. This is a law that will strengthen families and give meaning to the promise of equal rights for all."

"The struggle for equal rights is never easy. I was proud to be President of the Senate nine years ago when Vermont created civil unions," said Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Shumlin. "Today we have overridden the Governor's veto. I have never felt more proud of Vermont as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right thing to do."

The Human Rights Campaign mobilized its members in Vermont to support this legislation. National Field Director Marty Rouse, a former Vermont resident, was in Vermont since Monday working with legislators and activists to build support for the override votes.

Vermont becomes the first state to recognize marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples through legislation. California's legislature has twice passed similar legislation that was vetoed and not enacted into law. Vermont is the fourth state, after Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa, to extend marriage equality to committed lesbian and gay couples. Iowa's state supreme court unanimously ruled on April 3, 2009 that the state constitution guarantees lesbian and gay couples the equal right to marry.

New York recognizes marriages by lesbian and gay couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction. California recognized marriage by lesbian and gay couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in court a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.

Lesbian and gay couples do not receive federal rights and responsibilities in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation, visit:

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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