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November 21, 2008

Gov Hints at Same-Sex Marriage Veto

Folks who missed last night's evening news on Vermont Public Radio missed an interesting report on whether Gov. Jim Douglas supports same-sex marriage. The answer? He doesn't.

But, will he veto the measure if it's passed by enough of a majority in the House and Senate? Too hard to tell. Sure, lawmakers will be spending most of their time in Montpelier come January talking about the budgetary woes facing the state and where to cut, and if to raise taxes and fees (and which ones).

As I reported in "Fair Game" this week, same-sex marriage advocates will be pushing hard for the legislature to take action and enact full marriage rights for gays and lesbians. The main problem with Vermont's civil union laws is that it some benefits — specifically around life or death questions — are not guaranteed in the way that they are thanks to the marriage bond.

On the campaign trail, Douglas said civil unions were working just fine and he saw no need to implement same-sex marriage.

He said the same during a Montpelier press conference today. Here's how VPR reported Douglas' comments:

"I think the current Civil Union law is sufficient it accords equality of rights to Vermonters in terms of their relationships and I think we should leave the law as it is my major concern and priority is the fiscal condition of our state government and the economic realities they we're confronting and I think it's important that we make those our top priorities...and not deal with issues that might divert our attention from that goal."

VPR reporter Bob Kinzel noted that Douglas rarely hints at whether he'll veto a bill, but the message he gave reporters was clear (at least I think it was clear):

"I never indicate what I might do when a bill gets to my desk but I've been quite clear that I don't support the legislation," he told VPR.

Beth Robinson, of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, said Douglas shouldn't sell the legislature short on being able to handle more than one key issue at a time.

"The Legislature can absolutely do more than one thing at once," Robinson told the Associated Press. "The notion that working on civil rights takes away from these other issues really is a false one."

State Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, has said he will introduce the same-sex marriage bill — as he has in past sessions. News of his plans this week drew at least one angry response. A woman called him at the statehouse and told him she was going to blow up his house.

How civil.

If Governor Douglas believes that Civil Unions are "sufficient" he could easily prove it by trading his marriage license for a Civil Union document.

He can't actually. Civil unions are only for same-sex couples.

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