Editors' Note: This post comes via HRC Back Story and includes on-the-ground commentary from HRC's National Field Director Marty Rouse.
BREAKING: The Vermont House voted 100-49 to override the marriage bill veto! The House vote, which followed the Senate voting 23-5 this morning to override Gov. Douglas's veto, means that Vermont becomes the first state to OK marriage equality through the legislative process.
Today Vermont joins Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.
More to come...
**UPDATE - HRC's Marty Rouse, our national field director who was on the ground at the Vermont capitol to witness today's votes, sent in this statement:
It has meant so much to me to hear over two dozen legislators come up to me and thank me for being here today and for having helped them get to this place. Several brought up the memories of when and where we both were when I recruited them to run for office. Many asked how my kids are.
Vermont has a special place in my heart and now in American history.
***UPDATE: Statement by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin regarding the passage of S. 115 "An Act Relating to Civil Marriage":
Today Vermont legislators did the right thing by overriding Governor Douglas' veto and granting equal rights to all Vermonters. The struggle for equal rights is never easy. I was proud to be President of the Senate nine years ago when Vermont led the country by creating civil unions. Today is another historic day for Vermont and I have never felt more proud as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right thing to do."
Many thanks to all the Vermonters who participated in this debate, Vermont Freedom to Marry, MassEquality, the Human Rights Campaign, and everyone who helped make today's victory possible.
***UPDATE: HRC President Joe Solmonese issued this statement:
This historic vote in the Vermont legislature reminds us of the incredible progress being made toward equality. Less than five years ago, lesbian and gay couples began marrying in Massachusetts. Now, with the Iowa court decision last Friday and today's vote in Vermont, there will be four states recognizing the right to marry for loving, committed lesbian and gay couples.
We congratulate Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, Speaker of the House Shap Smith, the other legislators who voted for marriage, the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, and MassEquality for ensuring that all couples will now enjoy the freedom to marry in Vermont. This is a law that will strengthen families and give meaning to the promise of equal rights for all.
***UPDATE: HRC's David Smith, vice president of programs, just sent out this congratulatory statement to the HRC family:
Just moments ago, Vermont representatives joined their colleagues in the State Senate in voting to override the governor's veto and make Vermont the first state in the Union to enact marriage equality through the legislative process. Lesbian and gay couples can begin marrying in the Green Mountain State on September 1.
As with most legislative victories, this one did not happen overnight. In fact, today's votes are the result of years of work. At the Human Rights Campaign, we sent several action alerts and phoned our members in Vermont more than once over the past weeks and months. And we've been having strategic conversations with leaders at the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force since last year. Perhaps most significantly, our national field director Marty Rouse has travelled to Vermont several times this year and has been on the ground since yesterday calling in every chit he has from his many years helping elect Democrats to the State Senate and House. We are inspired by the many courageous lawmakers who stood their ground today and stood for equality, and we are proud that our own Marty Rouse helped elect so many of those lawmakers during their first campaigns for office. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that today's result would not have been possible without Marty's efforts.
We will soon go to the roof (twice in one week!) to hang the flag of another state that recognizes that all loving and committed couples should be treated equally.