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Vermont Inches Toward
Marriage Vote

Vermont Inches Toward
Marriage Vote

The Vermont legislature is one step closer to a vote on marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The Vermont legislature is one step closer to a vote on marriage equality for same-sex couples. State leaders are looking to put a bill to extend full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples on a fast track to a vote on the senate floor.

State senate president Peter Shumlin said that the nine-year-old civil union arrangement for same-sex couples is not enough, according to Vermont Public Radio.

"I'm proud of the steps we took in 2000," he said. "But as the years have passed, my pride has given way to uneasiness. Though we provided some important legal protections in 2000, the fact remains that we also stopped short of equal rights for many of our neighbors in Vermont."

Meanwhile, neighboring states Massachusetts and Connecticut are the two only states in the country with full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Shumlin said Vermont is no longer a leader on this front because of the two states, and he wants the senate judiciary committee to approve the legislation by March 20, advancing it to a vote by the full senate.

Gov. Jim Douglas has been opposed to the proposed bill since Rep. Mark Larson introduced the bill in the house in January with the backing of 59 other representatives.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Douglas said in the report. "We've got so many other issues of importance to rebuild our economy, to balance our budgets, to help Vermonters through a very difficult time in our state's fiscal and economic history. I want to guarantee that every Vermonter, regardless of sexual orientation, has a decent job."

A commission of legislative leaders formed last April to discuss whether the state should allow same-sex couples to marry. Though the panel concluded that instituting same-sex marriage would be positive for the state, it stopped short of suggesting that the state such marriage rights. Recommending same-sex marriage "would undercut the purpose and usefulness of [the commission's] work and [the] report," the April 21 report said.

While Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states with marriage equality, New York currently recognizes marriages performed outside the state at the direct order of Gov. David Paterson in 2008. California's supreme court ruling allowing same-sex marriage was overturned in the November election.

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