As you’ve no doubt figured out by this point, same-sex marriage is a big deal to me (and to a lot of other people of course). So, with that, I have been thrilled to see the progress being made in Vermont and New Hampshire towards legalizing gay marriage!
Nearly a decade ago, Vermont lead the nation with legislation that granted civil unions to same-sex couples. On March 24th, the Vermont State Senate passed a bill which would legalize same-sex marriage with a 26 to 4 vote. The bill- which would replace Civil Unions in the State- would take affect Sept. 1, 2009. At that time, Civil Unions would no longer be issued in the state, although those performed in the last 9 years- since their legalization- would still be honored.
An even more impressive piece of this story is 17-year old James Neiley from Charlotte, Vermont. James gave testimony at the Senate hearing, presenting them with over a hundred signatures from his classmates as well as a moving personal speech about the challenges gays not being given the same rights as other Americans presents. James speaks about how knowing that we (gay people) aren’t given the same rights perpetuates intolerance, bullying and harassment. Check out his speech below- I’m uber impressed with him at only 17 years old.
The Vermont House Judiciary Committee will begin hearing testimony on the bill starting Tuesday. Governor Jim Douglas- who is a Republican- doesn’t support the bill, saying that civil unions go far enough. It is unclear, however, whether or not he would veto the bill should it pass through the House.
In New Hampshire, only 2 years after the state granted the right for same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, the House has voted to make it the third state that allows same-sex marriage! The initial vote on the bill fell short by only one vote, but the opponents were unable to kill it and after the House reconsidered, passed the bill with a 186-179 vote. The bill will now be sent to the Senate.
In the wake of Proposition 8 on the West Coast… all eyes are now focused on the East-side. Make us proud guys! (And, we’re sending you all our fairy powers to help!)
After reading the comments from Topher & Jake, I started to do some research and it does appear that both Governor Lynch (New Hampshire) and Governor Douglas (Vermont) are planning to veto the bills if they make it to their desks. (Click here to view the USA Today article)
Having said that, this may not be the end of the road for either of these two bills. With a 2/3 vote in support, legislators would be able to overturn a veto and put the bill(s) into law.
Governor Douglas is quoted as saying that he believes Vermont’s pioneering civil unions legislation provides “sufficient rights” and that by announcing his intention to veto the bill, “we can move more quickly beyond this debate.” I hate to break it to him- but that’s just not going to happen. The fight is here, and it’s here to stay until equality is achieved.