Vermont Governor Jim Douglas Plans to Oppose Marriage Equality

In response to news of plans by Vermont state senator John Campbell to introduce a same-sex marriage bill in the next session of the legislature, the state’s governor Jim Douglas has restated his opposition to such legislation:

Douglas“‘I think the current civil union law is sufficient,’ Douglas said. ‘It accords equality of rights to Vermonters in terms of their relationships and I think we should leave the law as it is.’ Campbell said the bill is unlikely to gain support in the Legislature unless Douglas gives a clear signal he would sign it – or allow it to become law without his signature. But Douglas balked at sending any such signal. ‘I never indicate what I might do when a bill gets to my desk, but I’ve been quite clear that I don’t support the legislation,’ said Douglas, a Republican. He said he wants lawmakers to focus on the fiscal bind brought about by the recent economic downturn.”

Douglas seems to come from the Elton John school of thinking on the topic. Elton recently said gays should be happy with civil partnerships rather than marriage. Elton also recently made his first trip to the state of Vermont.


  1. Chris says

    Elton John had obviously no clue about the US issues. And if you don’t know about it, shut up.

    I think UK civil unions are at least equal in rights while US ones are not even that.

    If he had said that he would be OK with something equal in rights but with different name, it wouldn’t be that bad, but to score a goal for the wingnut faction is not excusable.

  2. says

    The headline is misleading. He has said he thinks there are more important things to do, though as is pointed out in the article, the legislature can do two things at once, and the committees that would deal with economic issues are not the committee that would deal with marriage.

    He refuses to say whether, if presented with a bill (which we think he will be in 2009), he will sign it or just allow it to become law. He has never said he will veto the bill or really work to oppose it. He just thinks it “isn’t necessary.” Wrong.

    All of us in Vermont will be working to move both the legislature and the governor towards extending full marriage rights. Douglas lives in my town, and his degree is from my college and my department (though before my time).

    We still hope Vermont is the first state to legislate marriage. We already have over 50% support of the people for marriage (more than CA).

  3. says

    Chris, technically within the state, CUs DO grant exactly the same rights. That is in fact how they’re defined. There’s nothing any state can do to make those CUs portable or grant federal rights. But then a marriage from CA or MA or CT is not portable either, with DOMA, so in practical terms those marriages grant currently EXACTLY the same rights as a VT CU.

    IF we ever got CUs at the Federal level (the Obama plan) AND people nationally and internationally were all aware that CU = marriage (that will never happen) we could be pretty close to equal to straight marriage. Getting real marriage (as opposed to the marriage that dare not speak its name) just seems much more practical.

  4. says

    As Kevin pointed out, Douglas is on record as opposing full marriage legislation, but he’s keeping his cards hidden re: vetoing a bill, as opposed to letting it pass without his signature.

    Meanwhile, Vermont Freedom to Marry has been leading a grassroots effort towards marriage since VT was the first state to have CUs in 2000. Whatever Douglas thinks, the times favor marriage. It’s mostly a non-issue with VTers, would actually help the economy, and it would efficiently settle the matter since we’re not going to go away until we achieve equality. I love most of our VT politicians but Douglas, in addition to being a Republican (in VT!), has all the charm and charisma of a dead fish.

  5. peterparker says

    How can these people fail to see that civil unions are separate AND unequal? I’m sorry, but they ARE unequal. As KENINVT pointed out, civil unions are neither portable nor are they recognized at a federal level. Except of course for the fact that he is a politician (and therefore a liar), I don’t see how the Governor can say that he supports equality but not marriage.

  6. Lee Chesnut says

    I live in Vermont and my partner and I were joined in a Civil Union here back in 2004. The straight people in this state are just about as great as you could imagine and I’m sure Vermont would love to continue its tradition of always being on the leading edge of social evolution and civil rights. Only a Republican governor could screw that up for us.

  7. says

    What would Jim Douglas do if 1,000 of us were standing on his lawn to oppose HIS marriage?

    Maybe then our struggle would appear a tad more “real”. You threaten my family, I’ll defend mine.

    PS – the IRS can still go fuck itself.

  8. Bryan says

    Couldn’t both houses just override a gubernatorial veto with a 2/3 majority. Here are the current compositions:
    Senate: Dems-23, Reps-7
    House of Representatives: Dems-93, Reps-49, Vermont Progressive Party-6

    If there’s at least one Republican liberal enough to support marriage equality in the House of Representatives, this could work.

  9. says

    Bryan, it’s possible we do have the votes to overturn a veto. The Freedom to Marry people have said the numbers look good, but they’re hoping we don’t have a veto to overturn. Douglas has never said he would veto it. He’s been very careful about that.

  10. Reynald L. Godard says

    Dear Governor
    I’m against the gay marriages Bill.
    Please stand firm on your statement to veto this proposal.
    The Bill should be voted on by all the Vermont voters during elections not by the legislature only. Let all voters decide if they want this. I certainly do not want it.
    Thank You
    Reynald L. Godard

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