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March 26, 2009

State Dems Decry Douglas Veto Threat

Vermont Democrats today came out swinging against Gov. Jim Douglas' surprise announcement yesterday that he would veto the marriage equality bill currently being reviewed in the House.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate Monday by a 26-4 vote, which is a veto-proof margin. On the House side, supporters of marriage equality need at least 100 votes (out of 150 members) to sustain a veto. It's not yet clear if that many House members support the measure. There are 96 Democrats, 48 Republicans, four Progressives and two independents.

Word is under the Golden Dome that a number of Democrats in more conservative-leaning districts in Franklin, Rutland and Bennington counties are not likely to support the bill.  That means it will be a tough fight to get it passed, and House leaders may take more time reviewing the bill before putting it up for a floor vote. It was slated to hit the House floor next week, either Thursday or Friday. That may be a tough deadline to meet, according to several lawmakers.

What is clear is that the party's leadership supports same-sex marriage, including some members of the Vermont congressional delegation. Newly-elected state party chairwoman Judy Bevans said Douglas is betraying Vermont's legacy of being a civil rights leader.

"Vermont has been a leader in civil rights legislation since her founding Constitution was written and passed," said Bevans in a statement. "Governor Douglas’ statement against marriage equality suggests that he believes Vermonters will agree to his betrayal of our shared legacy."

“Vermonters have now seen the true character of Governor Jim Douglas. His narrow vision of Vermont demeans its citizens, and his willingness to exclude some Vermonters from equal treatment bodes ill for our state’s future," Bevans continued. "As long as there is inequality, this issue will not go away. When
the bill reaches his desk, the Governor should admit he has made a mistake and sign the bill or let it become law without his signature."

Bevans urged “Vermonters of all parties" to resist Douglas' veto and continue Vermont's long tradition of supporting equality.

"By supporting marriage equality, we demonstrate that we remain true Vermonters: we want equality and fairness for all our neighbors," added Bevans. "Vermont’s motto is ‘Freedom and Unity.’ We are united in supporting the freedom of all Vermonters to pursue and achieve equality.”

Douglas' move is also likely to be a hot topic of debate at Saturday night's big fundraiser — the tenth annual David W. Curtis Leadership Awards. Former Gov. Howard Dean — who signed Vermont's landmark civil unions legislation into law — will receive a special award.

The awards will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton in Burlington.

Dean will be honored for his 50-state strategy, which party officials say "revolutionized the Democratic Party and led to victories at every level in states across the country."

The guest speaker will be US Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the first woman elected to the United States Senate from Missouri. She serves on the Armed Services, Commerce, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Aging, and Indian Affairs committees.

Full Statement from Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Bevans

“Vermont has been a leader in civil rights legislation since her founding Constitution was written and passed. Governor Douglas’s statement against marriage equality suggests that he believes Vermonters will agree to his betrayal of our shared legacy.

“The Democratic Party has for decades been the party of equality, a voice for people excluded from the rights and benefits conferred by law and regulation. We stand now for equality in support of S.115, knowing, as all fair-minded people do, that separate systems to achieve the same end are inherently unequal, and that will not ‘suffice.’

“Vermonters have now seen the true character of Governor Jim Douglas. His narrow vision of Vermont demeans its citizens, and his willingness to exclude some Vermonters from equal treatment bodes ill for our state’s future. As long as there is inequality, this issue will not go away. When the bill reaches his desk, the Governor should admit he has made a mistake and sign the bill or let it become law without his signature.

“Vermonters of all parties must stand together to resist the Governor’s attempt to short-circuit the legislative process, a process that has been thorough and inclusive. We applaud the Senate’s strong stand for equality in marriage and we look forward to a similar strong stand in the House.

“By supporting marriage equality, we demonstrate that we remain true Vermonters: we want equality and fairness for all our neighbors. Vermont’s motto is ‘Freedom and Unity.’ We are united in supporting the freedom of all Vermonters to pursue and achieve equality.”

Shay - why are you giving Pat Leahy a free ride here???

What is clear is that the party's leadership supports same-sex marriage, including some members of the Vermont congressional delegation.

Senator Leahy voted for DOMA! You should be asking when he will apologize for that vote and sponsor legislation to REPEAL DOMA. After all, isn't he the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

The fact remains - even if Vermont passes gay marriage, all of the injustices that have been cited in the ads and committee testimony will continue - because of federal legislation, i.e. DOMA!

So, Shay, I think its time that you put the Senior Senator on the spot.

Heaven's no, we can't challenge Leahy! He's our God! I was really excited about his truth commission until I found myself the recipient of e-mails from "Leahy for Vermont", the senator's reelection effort. Time to dump him, too. I think it's time he spent more time with his family.

"Dean — who signed Vermont's landmark civil unions legislation into law — will receive a special award."

Dean didn't introduce the Vt. civil unions bill or push for it. He had nothing to do with its birth or passage. It was pushed on the Legislature by a Vermont Supreme Court decision. Dean quietly signed that bill in 2000 behind closed doors. No spectators. No press. No fanfare whatsoever. Practically in secret. But then 4 years later went on the Presidential campaign trial and touted his support for gay rights.

How quickly we forget what we want to forget.

Sen. John Campbell (who is using gay marriage for his own political purposes?), goaded Douglas to come out and state his position on gay marriage legislation. And as soon as he does, Campbell attacks him.

How quickly we forget what we want to forget.

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