Barre-Montpelier Times Argus is reporting that the Vermont House
Judiciary Committee has approved a gay marriage bill on a vote of
Full debate on the bill is expected to
begin on Thursday.
Senators approved the bill with an
overwhelming 26 to 4 vote on March 23 after listening to a week's
worth of testimony on the issues. House leaders immediately began
committee hearings on the bill the next day.
Leaders in both houses have
enthusiastically endorsed the bill. Senate President Pro Temporate
Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith announced they would make
the legislation a priority in the Legislature.
The bill – introduced by
Representatives Mark Larson (Democrat) and David Zuckerman
(Progressive) – grants gay and lesbian couples the right to marry
in the first state to offer civil unions for gay couples in 2000.
But a promised veto by Governor Jim
Douglas threatens to kill the legislation. Douglas announced his
intentions last week at a media event.
“I believe our civil union law serves
Vermont well,” the Republican told reporters in Montpelier. “I
believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. ...
I'm announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches
Gay activists are now counting heads to
see to if they have the two-thirds majority in the Legislature to
override the governor.
An informal survey released yesterday
by the office of state Senator William Doyle, a Republican from
Washington, shows that a majority of Vermonters (55%) support gay
marriage, 38% oppose it. About 12,000 people participated in the
“Town Meeting Day” poll.