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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



First vote scheduled Friday on same-sex marriage bill

In the wake of Wednesday's big public hearing, a week of testimony and hundreds of e-mails and phone messages, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to revise and vote on the same-sex marriage bill Friday morning.

The panel has two hours for its deliberations.

Steve Cable, an opponent of the bill, suggested to Chairman Richard Sears, D-Bennington, that he didn't have to rush to action. Why not delay until after holding a statewide referendum or at least a summer study? Cable asked.

Not likely.

Not even Gov. Jim Douglas sees merit in slowing down the process -- now that legislative leaders "seem intent on doing this." At his news conference earlier this afternoon, Douglas said, "I think the better approach is to get it over quickly."

Assuming a bill legalizing marriage for same-sex couples passes both the Senate and House and lands on his desk, what would the governor do?

"I think I've made my position quite clear," he said. "Marriage should remain between a man and a woman." He added that he thinks civil unions provides gay couples with all the rights of marriage and ought to be sufficient.

Does that mean a veto? He wouldn't say, as usual. "I'm going to do what I think is right."

I guess we can feel safe in predicting he won't sign the bill. Would he let it become law without his signature or veto it? What are the political consequences of letting it become law versus a veto? Does he need to care?

-- Nancy Remsen

"He added that civil unions provides gay couples with all the rights of marriage..." except of course that a civil union doesn't provide gay couples with the rights of marriage. But other than that the Gov's statement is correct. Way to show your command of the facts Jim.
Jim Douglas hate this position - he loses big time no matter which we he goes.

Will he cuddle up to the right wing zealots? I think he will wait to see how the vote totals stack up.

But making his job harder are the editorials by both the Freeps and St A Mess - who generally side with the Governor.
Yes, Gov Douglas DOES need to care.

The latest poll shows 58% of Vermonters approve of gay marriage and only 39% oppose it.

Does he want to get reelected?
Governor Douglas, why do you believe that a marriage should be remain between a man and a woman.

Governor Douglas, isn't the fact that Civil Unions are not recognized outside of Vermont evidence that they are not equal to marriage?

Governor Douglas, what do you believe the negative impacts will be of legalizing gay marriage?
I guess I don't understand Douglas' thinking on this- If he's as opposed to this bill as he claims to be, why won't he just come out and say he'll veto it? What's in in for him to be so coy?
Is this his way of saying he doesn't like it, but he'll vote for it anyway, since it seems like the majority of Vermonters, and the legislators want it? Hmmm.
He should talk to Republican California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed two same sex marriage bills in 2005 and 2007. When the court had to step in, and then the Prop. 8 fiasco ensued, few public figures have so deeply regretted political calculation.

In penance for his veto, The Governator has pushed municipalities and government agencies to oppose the initiave, and has spoken to gay and lesbian groups telling them to never give up on the pursuit of marriage equality.

Marriage for all!
Whoopie do, you same-sex individuals, have no shame, you think that what you are doing is right, but the majority of Vermonters, think what you are doing, is really sick. You have no respect for the Lord, or this State of Vermont. You are selfish individuals, and your lust, in each other and no regret, of your sinful ways, will be your down fall. You also, place children, in this alful sinful way. May God have merci on your soul, when the time comes. Marriage is a sacred thing, not lust, for the same gender!! You are fearful of God, and the way, this U.S.A. was formed, by the bible. It shouldn't be changed. You have Civil Unions.
just to clarify, civil unions are not recognized outside the state of vermont, but gay marriage wouldn't be either. it would only be recognized in the other states that have passed gay marriage laws. instead of wasting time passing these bills state by state, those interested should really be focusing on passing a federal law that would provide true equal rights. it's kind of like passing presidential impeachment legislation at the state level- doesn't accomplish much except to make certain people feel good.
We can't let the them try a statewide referendum. People will get stirred up and it might not pass. Better to have the Legislature push it through quickly, now.
Little is absolutely wrong. This is not a constitutional issue. The Vermont Supreme Court has already said that civil unions are enough to satisfy the constitution. What is being pushed is something that is optional for the state to do, not something required by the constitution or the courts.
The Vermont Supreme Court has NOT already said civil unions are enough -- it has never taken up the issue of civil unions versus marriage. It specifically left that out of the Baker ruling and ruled only on rights, not the name of the status.

Three courts now HAVE taken up that issue: MA, CA, and CT, and all have ruled in favor of marriage.
Governor Douglas is correct to veto this bill, as it looks rather likely to pass the legislature. Amazing how the Dems are more interested in fatuous issues like gay marriage than addressing the economic crisis!
Once again Douglas shows he is no leader. He has the opportunity to take the high ground on this issue of full equality but instead becomes the "Decider" by declaring CU to be good enough with a pat on the head and a threat of a veto. CU is absolutely not the same as marriage, anyone involved in the debate should know that by now. How dare Douglas and his allies stand in the way of equality for all Vermonters! It's amazing to me that we are even having this current conversation in 2009. What POSSIBLE negative impact can be the result of full inclusion? How can freedom for all Americans be under such attack? Did we learn nothing about civil rights for all Americans? Come on, Vermont...do the right thing for all your citizens.
Gov. Douglas had better not betray his transparent excuse that it's "a waste of time" by forcing the legislature to "waste" MORE time on it next year if he vetoes it. If it's a waste of time, Governor, then you'd better just let it become law so no more time is wasted, right? If you veto it, you show yourself to be a calculating fraud in your public statements about it.
While the American people are furious about the AIG bonus fiasco, I am curious why I hear no buzz from Vermonters about the way our Vermont House and Senate are spending their time this session. While hundreds of Vermont families hang in the balance awaiting a decision on the Vermont budget and whether or not these families will be out a full time income, these elected representatives are debating gay marriage. It is not that this issue is not important to some, but the issue of our state budget impacts the livelyhood of hundreds of Vermont families. Where have our priorities gone? Why are we not outraged by the time spent on this issue while hundreds of Vermont families hang in the balance? I am personally outraged by the fact that passing gay marriage (as opposed to the already legal civil union) is debated and these families are put on hold. Maybe the media should concentrate on what's important and enlighten the Vermont citizen as to what's on hold awaiting decision while we debate an issue that can certainly wait one more session. Common sense has gone down the drain not only with Wall Street, but with the media as well. Let's report ALL of the issues fairly so people know what's really happening in Vermont!!!!
Why am I not hearing outrage from Vermonters that our respresentatives in Montpelier are debating gay marriage as opposed to civil union while hundreds of Vermont familes wait in the balance for a decision from them as to whether these Vermont State employees will be out of a job and their families in dire straits? The gay marriage issue should take a back seat to the hundreds of families awaiting a decision on Vermont's budget. Where have our priorities gone? How would you feel waiting on the fence not knowing whether your family would be out a full time income and health insurance while our respresentatives debate the gay marriage issue? Common sense has gone out the window!!! Can you really step up and say that the gay marriage issue comes before our state's balanced budget so these familes know where they stand in the near future? Please Vermonters, express your outrage at the fact that we are debating issues that can wait so we can $balance our budget and give hundreds of Vermont families an answer to their future!!!
For those who cite the Bible and God as a reason to not allow marriage equality. You should also stop eating shellfish, pork, and stop doing work on Sunday and go to Church. Do not pretend you are all high and mighty, because the Bible says you should not do those either.

So please do not cite the Bible and God, if you are going to pick and choice which passages you will follow.
Douglas has wasted time for six years. We've had enough of him.
Governor Douglas is weak - yet I don't believe he will veto. He can read the tea leaves - a majority of Vermonters support "Freedom to Marry" and he want sto be re-elected.

He's being coy now- because he lacks any real conviction or leadership.
There are 180 legislators in Montpelier. It would be foolish for all of them to be working on the same issue every day.

The budget work has not been put on hold. It is being worked on in the Aprops Committees and the Ways and Means Committees.

The Judiciary Committees are working on marriage equality. (They've already tackled some very important sex offender legislation this session.)

With 180 members, the legislature can do more than one thing at a time.

Note that the biggest accomplishment of Jim Douglas this year has been to redesign the Vermont commemorative quarter.
Jim Douglas loses on this bill no matter what happens.

He will come out of this as weak - unless he signs the bill.

If he lets it become law without his signature - he will look very weak with no conviction.

If he vetoes it - his true colors and allegiance to the ultra conservatives will be confirmed.
Jim Douglas loses on this bill no matter what happens.

He will come out of this as weak - unless he signs the bill.

If he lets it become law without his signature - he will look very weak with no conviction.

If he vetoes it - his true colors and allegiance to the ultra conservatives will be confirmed.
Jim Douglas is in a position he hates - he loses on this bill no matter what action he takes.

He will come out of this as weak - unless he signs the bill - then he pisses off his conservative base.

If he lets it become law without his signature - he will look very weak with no conviction - even to his base.

If he vetoes it - his true colors and allegiance to the ultra conservatives will be confirmed - and many moderates will stop their support of him.
Always looking for a way to bash Douglas, and always foolishly predicting his electoral demise. Nevermind that he's beaten the Democratic opponent 4 times -- and for the last three times quite handily so.

Keep dreamin' and predictin' and foolin' yourself. Vermonters prefer a moderate Governor. Snelling: moderate. Dean: moderate. Douglas: moderate. None of the ultra- liberal Democratic yapping mice in the Legislature can even hope to lay a glove on him.
The House and Senate have taken away your vote on this issue. they
donot want to hear from the Vermonters. Once again they know better than the people who put them in office. As one lawmaker told me "We will take the peoples
right whenever we want" YOUR RIGHT
TO VOTE. Last I knew we don't live
a dictorship. For the people, not
for the politicans
To Anonymous 9:51a

Clearly, you do not know or understand Vt's constitution!

Vt is not a referendum vote state!

And you are wrong - very wrong - to say the legislature has taken away your right to vote.

Let's face it - you are not happy; but no one has infringed on your rights.
New York State recognizes gay marriages from other states.
Don't confuse the wacks with the facts.
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