Douglas quickly vetoes marriage bill

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has delivered on his promise to veto legislation legalizing same sex marriage in Vermont.

The governor said the bill wrongly redefines marriage, which he says should only be between a man and a woman.

The legislature is set to vote today on Tuesday on whether to override the governor’s veto.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The same sex marriage bill made one last stop in the Senate before being sent to the governor’s office.

Bennington Senator Dick Sears – the chairman of the Judiciary Committee – explained that there were only a few changes between this version and one that cleared the Senate last month. Sears said one change made it absolutely clear that religious institutions are not obligated to support same sex marriages.

(Sears) For example, a same sex couple who wants to get married under our new version wants to use the Knights of Columbus hall. This would allow the Knights of Columbus to say no.

(Dillon) There was no debate. And Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie called for a vote.

(Dubie) Thank you, senator. Are you ready for the question. If so, all those in favor of the questions, please signify by saying aye. Aye! All those opposed please say nay. Nay. The ayes appear to have it. The ayes do have it. And you have concurred to the House proposal of amendment and ordered the bill to proceed to the governor.

(Dillon) Minutes after his office received it, Governor Douglas issued his veto message.

In a written statement, Douglas said Vermont’s nine year old civil unions law grants the rights and privileges of marriage to same sex couples. But he said marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

The governor also said that the issue is an intensely personal one, so he said he has not lobbied lawmakers to sustain his veto.

Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith says he wants lawmakers to respect the work of the legislature.

(Smith) I really think that it’s about saying that the majority of the legislature made a decision, and should one person stand in the way of the majority of the Legislature decision.

(Dillon) Supporters of the bill are confident of a victory in the state Senate.

But the vote will be much close in the House. If all 150 members vote, 100 are needed to override. Last week, the bill passed a few votes shy of the super majority needed to override the governor’s veto.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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