Vt. Governor vows to veto marriage bill

The progress of this month’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont has hit a bump in the road, with Vermont Governor Jim Douglas (R) promising to veto the bill if it passes through the House after the Senate passed the bill with 26-4 vote last week.In a statement released March 25, Douglas cited his intentions to veto the bill from his belief that lawmakers and legislature should not divert their focus from Vermont’s current economic and budgetary problems.”I believe our civil union law serves Vermont well and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same-sex unions,” Douglas said. “But, like President Obama and other leaders on both sides of the aisle, I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman.”Douglas said that since he is sure the legislative leaders have the votes to override a veto, he will accept either outcome of their vote and turn his attention back to the economic and unemployment issues at hand.”The urgency of our state’s economic and budgetary challenges demands the full focus of every member and every committee of this Legislature,” Gov. Douglas said.The governor’s announcement has drawn some criticism from people following the bill’s progress.”Marriage is a sacred institution and a source of pride for heterosexual people, a pride that comes at the expense of another group,” IRA President Bob Just said. “We say that there is separation of Church and State, but if this bill does not pass, I find it hard to believe in such a separation.”Dorothea “Dot” Brauer, Director of LGBTQA Services, said that it is the responsibility of the Vermont government to set a higher standard for civil society, and that she hopes Vermonters will be disturbed by Gov. Douglas’ decision to veto.”Government has to act on behalf of citizens who are being systematically excluded by any instrument of society – that’s the role of government,” Brauer said.Brauer said that Gov. Douglas’ announcement was not a surprise to her and that the governor set a precedent in earlier years by vetoing other civil rights legislation on gender and identity expression issues.President of the UVM College Republicans, Daron Raleigh, said that she supports Gov. Douglas in his decision to veto for reasons pertaining to the state of the national economy and the importance of focusing on related policy.”Governor Douglas thinks it’s more important to focus on fiscal issues at this time, and that is something I support,” Raleigh said. “At the same time, I sense the mood of the state and this campus, and this issue has definitely become a top priority, if not the top priority.”Raleigh said that she believes Gov. Douglas’ decision to veto is a moot point due to the fact that the House and Senate undoubtedly have the votes to override.”Clearly the people of Vermont want this,” UVM freshman Josh Bell said. “It’s like the women’s suffrage vote – it’s going to pass, and I firmly believe that every day we are progressing toward that.”Bell said that he believes Gov. Douglas is wasting time, taxpayer dollars and public resources in announcing his intentions to veto the bill in a state that passed civil unions before any other state in the country.”I think it’s a personal issue that he is too scared to admit,” Bell said. “The fact that [Douglas] is justifying his decision with economic issues does not change the fact that he is dividing society.”