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  Vermont Senate Panel Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill
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Last EditedArmyDem  Mar 21, 2009 11:54am
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MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateFriday, March 20, 2009 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
Published: March 20, 2009

BOSTON — The Judiciary Committee of the Vermont Senate approved a bill on Friday to allow same-sex marriage, and the full Senate is to take up the measure next week.

The committee’s unanimous support added momentum to a bill that Democratic leaders, who control both chambers of the legislature, have described as a priority. But even if it clears the legislature, Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, could veto the measure. And it is too early to know whether supporters could gather enough votes for an override.

The committee vote came at the end of a week of hearings on the measure, including an intense public hearing on Wednesday that packed the State House in Montpelier. Vermont was the first state to allow civil unions for gay couples, in 2000, and with the new measure, it would be the third to allow same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are now the only states to permit such marriages, but in both states the policy came about as a result of court rulings, not legislative action. A court decision last year briefly allowed same-sex marriage in California, but a voter initiative in November banned it.

Mr. Douglas has said that Vermont’s civil-union law provides sufficient rights and that, given the economic crisis, lawmakers should be focused instead on issues like job creation.

“Governor Douglas believes that this legislation is a distraction from the important work the legislature should be doing to get our economy back on track,” Dennise Casey, his spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message.
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