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March 26, 2009


Republican Governor James Douglas said just a couple of days ago that he "wouldn't sign" the gay marriage bill, leaving the door open for it to become law without his signature.

Yesterday however, Governor Douglas made a very public statement saying that if the bill does reach his desk, he would not sign it. This in spite of the fact that it received an overwhelming majority vote of 26-4 in the State Senate.

According to WCAX TV news, Douglas went on to reiterate the same flawed argument he's used before:

"I believe marriage has always been and ought to remain the union of a man and a woman. I believe the civil unions law has offered equal rights and benefits under state law to same-sex couples and that should suffice."

As I pointed out in my original March 13th story, contrary to Douglas' statement, in the nine years since civil unions were approved, there have been numerous and persistent problems with businesses, hospitals and even government agencies recognizing the legality of those unions.

To further dilute Douglas' logic, the 182 clergy members who came out in support of the bill said in their March 12th statement:

We recognize that a separate system that legally recognizes same-gender couples creates a harmful stigma for those we support and love in our community. Although civil union protections have remedied some of the financial and legal inequities, the denial to participate in the status of civil marriage is a social injustice that fractures our communities, harms those we love and sends a message of government sanctioned discrimination."

Despite the governor's opposition, this bill is not dead yet. Over the next week it will be debated in the house and a vote there will determine whether or not there are enough votes in both houses to override Douglas' veto. The senate's vote has already shown that the needed 2/3 majority is clearly present there. The house however is not a done deal yet. Which is probably why Douglas came out with his statement much earlier than he usually would have. Obviously he's trying to influence the house vote.

However, in a very curious, if not schizophrenic statement, WCAX TV reported that Governor Douglas also said:

...he thinks Democratic leaders would not have advanced the bill if they did not have enough votes to override a veto, but because the issue is so personal and divisive legislative leaders say there's no guarantee. But of course Douglas acknowledged he will have no choice but to accept same-sex marriages if the house can get the numbers.

Does this mean that the governor is simply playing politics to placate his voter base but really wants to see this bill passed? I hope that's the case. More importantly, with all the strong support this bill has gotten outside of the political arena, I hope that enough house representatives see it that way too and go ahead and pass the bill with more than a 2/3 majority.

Obviously, the success or failure of this bill now rests entirely in the state's House of Representatives.

Of course, I'll keep you posted. I need to go take an aspirin now.