When Governor Douglas vetoed the marriage equality bill, he cited as his rationale the fact that extending the word marriage to cover same-sex couples would not extend federal benefits to those couples who were engaged in those legally binding contracts. Apparently no one in his office informed him that the Defense of Marriage Act is under threat of being deemed unconstitutional and that a lawsuit has already been brought concerning it. He also said that marriage should be between a man and a woman. It might shock him to find out how many societies and cultures in the world would disagree with him on that issue. This would include many within Vermont’s smallest religious minorities.
What his veto did was set the stage for today’s showdown to override his veto. In the Senate, the override was 23-5 with one absentee due to outside business. This means that only one person changed their vote from the original vote. Eyes turned then to the House where they awaited the override vote. It was expected to be close. It passed 100-49. It is the first time in almost twenty years since a veto was overridden. There was one absent from the vote.
By his actions, Governor Jim Douglas has proven how tone deaf he is to changes within our society. Vermont, like much of America, has begun to change in how it views homosexuality. Many Vermonters are not opposed to same-sex marriage. Indeed, the latest polls have shown greater support for civil marriage than they have in the past. Many of those in the opposition reach back to the polls conducted in 2000 in order to claim a majority, and yet, they dismiss those same companies conducting current polls as being mere ‘propaganda.’ They claim that gays and lesbians are ramming this idea down their throats. Yet, it is they who did not stand up and scream about this bill until it was already passed the Senate. They were given a year to voice their opposition, and yet, they chose to ‘create their own report’. They chose to avoid having their voices heard until it was too late.
The changes in Vermont, and Governor Douglas’ actions in this debate may result in his career coming to an end. There is growing opposition in the state to Douglas’ plans for the state, and his unwillingness to listen to the people. Currently, State Senator Douglas Racine has entered the race to unseat Governor Douglas, but many wonder if he will be able to unseat Douglas this time. Prospective Senators who may be entering the race include State Senator Peter Shumlin, and State Senator John Campbell. Both Shumlin and Campbell have become high profile during the marriage debate.
Vermont joins Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa in legalizing same-sex marriage. The last Governor to have his veto overridden was Governor Howard Dean’s predecessor, Governor Richard Snelling.
Bridget “Sei” McBride is a trans-lesbian who lives in Vermont and has a strong passion for LGBTI rights. She has a BA in History and her hobbies include sci-fi, anime, fantasy, action movies, video games, and more. Currently, she is working on her MA in Individualized Studies at Goddard College. Her specialization is in cultural history and cultural comparison.