MONTPELIER, Vt. (BP)–Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas broke his silence Wednesday about a “gay marriage” bill that is garnering national attention, saying he will veto it if it reaches his desk.
Whether a veto by Douglas, a Republican, will make any difference remains to be seen. A bill that would legalize “marriage” between homosexuals passed the state Senate by a veto-proof majority and is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.
Douglas’ pledge, though, does provide opponents of the bill with hope. Until Wednesday, he had not taken a stand on the bill, although he had said he opposes “gay marriage.” His policy has been not to take a position on any bill prior to its passage.
Democratic leaders have made the bill, H.B. 444, a priority and placed it on a fast track in an attempt to make Vermont the first state voluntarily to legalize such relationships.
“I believe our civil union law serves Vermont well,” Douglas told reporters, according to Vermont Public Radio. “Like President Obama and leaders on both sides of the aisle, I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. … I’m announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches my desk.”
The bill passed the Senate during a special session, 26-4, far more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. The House vote is expected to be closer.
“The speculation about my decision has added to the anxiety of the moment, and further diverts attention from our most pressing issues, and I cannot allow that to happen,” Douglas said.
Douglas also speculated about a possible override, saying, “I’m sure that legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they didn’t have the votes to override a veto.”
Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states that recognize “gay marriage,” although both changes in law came via court order.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.