Douglas opposes constitutional amendment on marriage

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he opposes efforts to pass an amendment to the federal constitutional that would ban same-sex marriages. Douglas says this issue should be decided on a state by state basis.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Supporters of a proposed amendment to the federal constitution say their plan is needed to overturn state and local efforts to legalize gay marriage. In recent weeks, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has issued a landmark decision that grants same-sex couples the right to marry in that state, and the city of San Francisco is issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Douglas says he opposes efforts to pass a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage because he believes that issues defining marriage should be determined at the state not the federal level:

(Douglas) “I really think that Vermont has made its decision. Other states can make their own. I don’t really see the need for a constitutional amendment. States can make their own decisions as Vermont did. It obviously is a difficult issue for many Americans, many legislators and I don’t think we want to raise the tenor of that debate by proposing a constitutional amendment.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says there’s no need to change Vermont’s civil union law because he feels most Vermonters have come to accept it:

(Douglas) “There was a lot of divisive discussion, as you know, when this came up four years ago. I believe there’s been a lot less of that in the intervening years. During the campaign, the year before last, I heard very little about it from people on the campaign trail. So I think in most cases Vermonters have come to accept it.”

(Kinzel) The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling will go into effect in the middle of May. Some lawmakers in that state want to block this decision from going into place but it may take an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution to overturn the court’s decision. That’s a process that could take several years to implement.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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