The first state in the union to issue civil unions to same-sex couples is now a step closer to issuing same-sex marriage licenses, possibly joining Connecticut and Massachusetts as the only states legalizing same-sex marriage.
Impassioned pleas came from supportive senators, including Sen. John Campbell, who went to last week's public hearing, where opposition claimed that straight marriage was like a cruise ship full of heterosexual couples, and that homosexuals followed the vessel in their tiny dinghies but wanted to get on the straight marriage ship, not carrying whether or not they sank it. The underlining theme of this metaphor, said a senator, was the appalling inequality, and what was most offensive was that the opposition felt this was acceptable, and on top of that, proclaimed it.
An alternate bill was presented to the floor stating that the issue should go to the people in a referendum instead of being decided by the legislature, urged by the belief that the legislature was moving too quickly on the issue. Opposing views claimed that it could be very expensive and referred to the millions and millions spent in California on Proposition 8, and that more pressing issues, such as the economy, needed the state's full resources instead of it being distracted by the marriage debate. This was countered that if same-sex marriage was approved by the people of Vermont, then the institution would have more sound standing and acceptance than if only approved by the legislature. This bill was voted down.
The approved bill must move the House for a floor vote, and though it's expected to be a tight race, the house speaker believes it will be approved. It also must clear the obstacle of Republican Gov. James Douglas' desk where a veto threat is real. It is not clear whether or not a enough votes exist in the state legislature to overturn a veto.
If the bill does in fact clear all obstacles, same-sex marriage will begin in the state of Vermont, September 1, 2009.