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Vermont: No such thing as false hope


I'm totally delighted to report that Vermont has legalized same-sex marriage, overriding the governor's veto. Same-sex marriages in Vermont will start on September 1.

This is amazing. It's the first time that a US state legislature has successfully legalized same-sex marriage. (California's legislature tried in 2005 and again in 2007, but both times Schwarzenegger vetoed and the legislature didn't have the votes to override.) In all three other US states where it's legal (MA, CT, and IA), the change happened through the state's Supreme Court.

Thanks to everyone in Vermont who made this happen, and perhaps especially to the final deciding vote, Rep. Jeff Young, who voted against the bill last week but voted this week to override the veto. [Added later: Okay, I'm not thrilled with Rep. Young's reasoning--he says he changed his vote for political reasons even though he's opposed to same-sex marriage--but I'm still glad he voted the way he did on the override.]

See also an article from last week about how the same-sex marriage debate in Vermont has changed since 2000, when the contentious civil-unions law was introduced.

I forgot to note the other day that Iowa's legalization is safe for the time being because amending the Iowa constitution is non-trivial, according to the Des Moines Register:

The Legislature must approve a constitutional amendment during two consecutive sessions before the issue goes to a statewide ballot, meaning the earliest that could happen would be in 2012. Massachusetts has a nearly identical process.

So Iowa has at least three years to get used to same-sex marriage before there's even the possibility of a constitutional amendment taking it away. Going by Massachusetts's experience, I'm hoping that'll be long enough for the state's citizens to see that the sky doesn't fall.

Things are good on that front in Vermont too: amending the Vermont constitution requires action from the legislature, and can be done only every four years. The next time that process can start, if I'm understanding right, is 2011, and then it takes a couple of years and a fairly extensive process to pass. So it could happen (there is a Vermont General Assembly election between now and 2011), but it seems pretty unlikely to me.

Four states down, 46 to go! Or, looking at the more manageable short-term goal of Six by Twelve, three New England states down, three to go!

The next most likely one is New Hampshire, where if the currently pending bill passes the Senate, it'll go to the governor, whose plans are unclear. I gather that it's unlikely to pass, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

And I gather that Rhode Island and Maine have a longer way to go. But man, a week after Iowa, anything seems possible.

(Romanovsky & Phillips's "No Such Thing as False Hope" just came up in my iTunes rotation, moments before I checked Google News and found the news about Vermont. The song is about AIDS, but it has lines that are more generally applicable, including the title, so I figured I'd use it as an entry title.)


> California's legislature tried in 2005 and again in 2007, but both times Schwarzenegger vetoed and the legislature didn't have the votes to override.

Man, I had forgotten about this. What a dick. I can't believe I once thought he was an honest-to-goodness mainstram libertarian -- I think I even voted for him. :^(

I'm amused by this

"This is one way of slapping him on the side of the head and telling him to wake up," Audette said of the governor [Jim Douglas of Vermont]. "He has no respect for us. He has no respect for our process. We have to all work together and he makes that very difficult."
(from http://www.timesargus.com/article/20090405/NEWS01/904050349/1002/NEWS01 ) I rather suspect Audette might've said "upside the head" instead of "on the side of the head" **chuckle*

Aside, columnist Shay Totten noted in last week's 7 Days (a local weekly) that there was a FaceBook group with 13,000 members supporting marriage regardless of genders in Vermont, and a group with 55 opposing. from http://www.7dvt.com/2009those-damn-distractions

Hey, MA legislature was not insignificant, since the supreme court decision prompted a rush to amend the constitution. The process requires two legislatures to both vote for such an amendment (eg, with an election in between) before it goes to ballot. The current legislature voted in favor of the amendment, and then we the people kicked the 'phobes out and replaced them with folks like Carl, and then the second legislature voted the ammendment down. In addition to us all getting to take some small credit for it, this also gave me the chance to remember the official moment of certitude -- they'd been trying to block the vote, bump it past a hiatus, because they didn't have the votes. I turned on the radio, and they announced that the vote had happened -- and my heart sank -- because they had found enough votes to win -- and my heart soared.

That whole two legislatures before tossing the consitution up to whoever finances the better campaign makes the process a lot more considered. CA should look into it.

I was discussing this with students yesterday (one was listing the people and businesses outed as supporters of Prop 8, with great disappointment in places he used to frequent and now would boycott). I told him I'm rather enjoying the slow progress. It has such a feeling a weighty inevitability now, that all the struggles feel like the doomed squirming of prejudiced people on the wrong side of history. And I'm rather enjoying watching them squirm. And the joy of each new state, each accomplishment -- it's like watching fireworks, and you wouldn't want them all to go at once. By the time we're old, it will but a completely accepted fact of life; let's enjoy the momentous transition period.

Oh, prev "anonymous" was me.

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