Vermont Legislature gives final OK to gay marriage
Lawmakers override the governor's veto of a bill allowing same-sex marriage. Vermont is now one of four states allowing gay marriage -- and the first to do it by legislative, rather than court, action
Sen. John Campbell, left, congratulates gay marriage advocate Susan Murray after the state legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. (Toby Talbot / Associated Press / April 7, 2009)
The vote comes just four days after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled to permit gay marriage, and brings to four the number of states that allow gay marriage.
"The emotion that is going around this building right now -- how good people feel -- it's palpable," said Vermont state Senate Majority Leader John Campbell, who led his colleagues this morning in overriding Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. "It's not often that you get in your career to be able to fight for someone's civil rights."
Opponents of gay marriage, meanwhile, condemned the decision.
"Today is a truly sad day for Vermont and this nation," said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, in a statement.
Brown added that, in response to the actions in Vermont and Iowa, his organization plans to launch a new, national ad campaign that "highlights how same-sex marriage undermines the core civil rights of those who believe in the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman." The ads will begin Wednesday, he said.
The action by one of the nation's smallest states -- Vermont's population is around 600,000 -- was hailed by gay rights activists in California who are fighting for same-sex marriage here. Following a ruling last May by the California Supreme Court, gay couples had the right to marry in California for about five months before Proposition 8 amended the state Constitution to disallow such unions.
"Today's vote should send another strong message to the California Supreme Court that discrimination has no place in our laws and should not be enshrined in the California Constitution," said Marc Solomon, the newly hired director of marriage for the gay rights group Equality California.
Gay marriages can be performed in Vermont starting in September.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in four states: Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.