Vermont senator hopes to ban gay marriage

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 08 2003 1:00 AM ET

A Vermont state senator is hoping to amend the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, but senate leaders say they doubt the proposal will go anywhere. Sen. Julius Canns (R-Caledonia) said he will formally introduce the proposal soon but that he is still soliciting cosponsors from among his colleagues. He already has a handful of backers. The constitutional language would be simple: "That marriage between two people of the same sex is invalid in Vermont and shall not be recognized for any purpose." Canns's proposal would not affect the state's landmark civil unions law, which permits gay and lesbian couples to join together legally and qualify for the hundreds of benefits conferred by the state through marriage. But it would prohibit the state from allowing the civil unions law to be amended into full marriage for same-sex couples. "I've been doing for this for the last three sessions," Canns said. "The people of Vermont never, ever had the opportunity to vote on the issue."

Constitutional amendments, if they win approval by two separately elected legislatures, must go to a statewide vote before they're enacted. The chairman of the senate judiciary committee said he does not see any need to amend the constitution, particularly because the legislature already defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman three times in state statutes. "I don't think there's a major push out there by an interest group for gay marriage," said Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington).

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