(Host) Both of Vermont’s U.S. senators say they’ll vote against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage when the measure comes to the Senate floor for a vote this week. Senators Patrick Leahy and Jim Jeffords say the amendment is little more than a political ploy by Republican lawmakers to win support from their conservative backers.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) It’s not clear at this time if the Senate will actually hold an up and down vote on the proposed constitutional amendment. First, backers of the plan must secure 60 votes to cut off debate on the issue. A number of political observers question if proponents of the amendment can muster this many votes.
If this motion is successful, it will then take 67 votes in the Senate to pass the plan. Constitutional amendments need a two-thirds vote to be adopted; even GOP leaders are expressing serious doubt that the measure will get enough votes to pass.
Senator Jim Jeffords says he’ll vote against the amendment because he believes it should be up to individual states to determine the details of marriage laws:
(Jeffords) “It’s another attempt by the far right to take control of the states, to reduce what they can do. I just feel very strongly that these issues not be handled by the federal government. No question about it this is a political vote. It’s the far right trying to again pick up support from the conservatives and get the conservatives out to vote, hoping they will give some political advantage.”
(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy says he’ll also vote against the plan because he feels they are too many unanswered questions about it and because Leahy thinks the amendment is unnecessary:
(Leahy) “This constitutional amendment is just being rushed through to score some political points. We don’t know what it does to civil union laws, for example, we don’t know what the amendment means when it refers to the legal incidence of marriage, we don’t know what it might do to affect everything from inheritance to adoption laws. This thing just slams it out without anybody saying what it’s supposed to do.”
(Kinzel) Leahy says he believes that it should be up individual states to determine the eligibility standards of marriage laws and to decide if they want to recognize marriages that have been granted in other states.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.