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."
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
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.