Ellen Andersen

Marriage Equality News from Vermont

Filed By Ellen Andersen | February 07, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Jim Douglas, marriage equality, marriage politics, New Jersey, same-sex marriage, Shap Smith, Vermont

All hail from the wonderfully snowy Vermont! I've been AWOL from Bilerico ever since my move this summer (sorry Bil and Alex!), but I'm back with some pretty exciting news to report.

Yesterday, a marriage equality bill (H. 178) was introduced into the legislature here. At the moment, it's got 59 House sponsors (none of them Republican). That makes it only 16 votes shy of a guaranteed win in the House. And at least a few Repubs have indicated that they'll vote for the bill when and if it comes to the floor.

There are some reasonably big roadblocks still in the way. Our Republican Governor, Jim Douglas, doesn't support marriage equality. And our Speaker of the House (Shap Smith), who actually supports the bill, isn't absolutely sold on bringing it to the floor this year, in light of the state's huge fiscal crisis.

So no guarantees that the bill will get to the floor, or that we'll win if it gets there, or that the Governor won't veto it, but it's a heck of a start. And at the very least, it seems pretty clear that the fight over civil marriage is going to be less divisive than the fight over civil unions was nine years ago.

A recent poll of Vermonters indicated that 45% supported "legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples," while an additional 13% indicates that they were "leaning toward support for legal marriage." The margin of error on this poll was +/- 5%, which is pretty sizable, but even so, these numbers indicate that somewhere between 48%-68% of Vermonters are somewhat or strongly supportive of marriage equality. You can download the original polling data here.


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That is great news!
Wanted to post a little about what's going on here in Minnesota, since I haven't seen anything on it on the non-Minnesota internet.
Last legislative session, a marriage equality bill was introduced in the house and senate, S.F.3880 / H.F.4248. The Senate bill has been reintroduced (SF 120) with 5 authors, and 3 more have signed on for a double-jacket bill, which I believe will be introduced when 2 more sign on. The house bill has not yet been introduced, but has 23 sponsors so far (up from 14 last session!)
Sadly, we'll be up against the governor as well.
More info at marriageequalitymn.org, and SF120 at https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/revisor/pages/search_status/status_detail.php?b=Senate&f=SF0120&ssn=0&y=2009

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 8, 2009 4:35 PM

Meanwhile, Ellen, as the Vermot legislature remains free to debate the pros and cons of replacing civil unions by marriage, folks in your former home state of Indiana are watching another attempt by anti-equality forces to drive in reverse instead of forward.

You were one of the very earliest to sound the alarm over what SJR-7, the so-called "Indiana Marriage Protection Amendment" to the Hoosier constitution could do to restrict our it targeted only "unelected activist judges". Sponsors even claimed that they were being nicer that most states that had such amendments in that our lawmakers could still enact Vermont style civil unions if they wanted to.

But now "no more mister nice guys". After SJR-7 failed there is a new version, mirroring amendments in Kentucky and Wisconsin, which strips away that legislative power. Proponents here neglect to mention that big change in their literature, and their legislative sponsors only quitely acknolwedged it when closely questioned. More half-truths, misrepresentations, and spin in your former home state, Ellen. I know you have some pangs of nostalgia, but not for that aspect.

More power to the Vermont legislature.....we're still trying to preserve that of our own!

Great to see you around these parts again, Ellen. And I think you're the only person on this site who's in VT, so you'll have to keep us updated!

Ellen Andersen Ellen Andersen | February 9, 2009 7:28 PM

It's nice to be back, Alex. And thanks for the update, Megan. I try to keep up with queer legislation/litigation, so I always appreciate new sources of info.

As for Indiana, Don, I've certainly been following that. There's a lot of things I miss about Indiana, but constantly fighting a rear guard action against people seeking to deny me my dignity and my common humanity is not one of them. Vermont isn't a queer paradise, but it's much closer than Indiana in most respects. At least you've got several opportunities to try to derail new anti-marriage amendments before they can reach the ballot. It's not much comfort, but it's something.

Ellen Andersen Ellen Andersen | February 9, 2009 8:23 PM

It's nice to be back, Alex. And thanks for the update, Megan. I try to keep up with queer legislation/litigation, so I always appreciate new sources of info.

As for Indiana, Don, I've certainly been following that. There's a lot of things I miss about Indiana, but constantly fighting a rear guard action against people seeking to deny me my dignity and my common humanity is not one of them. Vermont isn't a queer paradise, but it's much closer than Indiana in most respects. At least you've got several opportunities to try to derail new anti-marriage amendments before they can reach the ballot. It's not much comfort, but it's something.