The Vermont Legislature on Tuesday overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto of a bill allowing gay couples to marry, mustering one more vote than needed to preserve the measure.
The step makes Vermont the first state to allow same-sex marriage through legislative action instead of a court ruling. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
Approval had been expected in the Senate, where the vote was 23 to 5.
But the outcome in the House of Representatives was not clear until the final moments of a long roll call, when Rep. Jeff Young, a Democrat who voted against the bill last week, reversed his position. In the end the vote was 100 to 49, just slightly more than the required two-thirds majority of members present.
After the final tally, cheers erupted in both legislative chambers of the State House and in the hallways outside, and several lawmakers on both sides of the debate looked stunned.
“It’s a great day for equality,” said State Representative Margaret Cheney, a Democrat from Norwich. “People saw this as an equality issue, and we’re proud that Vermont has led the way without a court order to provide equal benefits.”
The override came days after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that not permitting gay marriage there was unconstitutional. Vermont, which in 2000 became the first state to adopt civil unions for gay couples, now brings the number of states allowing same-sex marriage to four; the others are Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.
"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."
“We're delighted to see two-thirds of each Statehouse chamber override the Governor's veto of a law which will correct the injustice of segregation via ‘civil unions.’
“Vermont's Legislature is the first in the Union to affirm the right to marriage equality. Previous rulings, in four states, have been made by state Supreme Courts, each with a Republican-appointed Justice penning the majority opinion.”
4 of a Kind: MA, CT, Iowa, and now Vermont
Today in Gay History- April 7th
1953- Closeted gay Dag Hammarskjöld is elected United Nations Secretary General.
1970- The movie, Midnight Cowboy, which depicted the life of a gay hustler in New York City, wins the Academy Award for best picture.
1976- Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) refuses to co-sponsor a federal gay rights bill, and becomes angry at comparisons made between discrimination based and race and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
1987- Openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harry Britt narrowly loses an election to Nancy Pelosi. The special election was held to fill a seat in the House of Representatives left vacant by the death of Rep. Sala Burton.
1990- The weekly Soviet magazine Ogonyok condemns the persecution of homosexuals.
1998- British singer George Michael is arrested for masturbating in a public restroom in Will Rogers Park, Beverly Hills California.
2004- Thirteen same-sex couples sue the state of New York seeking to have the state law which denies gay and lesbian couples the right to marry declared unconstitutional.
2009- Vermont and DC vote to Legally recognize Same-Sex Marriage.
Today’s Gay Birthdays-