Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Historic Day In Gay American History

I started writing this around 8:30 this morning:

I'm currently on the bus, running late to work, and in checking my email i received a breaking news report from the Washington Post with the headline that Vermont Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in that state after both the Senate and House voted to override Governor Jim Douglas' veto. This now makes Vermont the fourth state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriages. Furthermore, this is the first time in which the law was passed in the legislature. Iowa's supreme court last week ruled that it was unconstitutional to disallow same-sex couples to marry, effectively making Iowa the third state to legalize same-sex marriages.

The Washington Post reports
The issue is also advancing in New Hampshire, where it has passed the state House and is awaiting action by the Senate, as well as in Maine and New Jersey, which are debating same-sex marriage legislation.

New Jersey, which now allows civil unions for gay couples, is a particular prize for advocates because of its large size, and they are hoping for action this year after a commission in December recommended making marriage laws gender-neutral. Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would sign a same-sex marriage bill.

New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, and Gov. David Paterson has said he supports full marriage rights for same-sex couples. And sometime before early June, the California Supreme Court must decide whether Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the Golden State about five months after it became legal, was a valid use of the referendum power.

The action Tuesday in Vermont came swiftly, surprising even some of the proponents of gay marriage who were still celebrating their victory last Friday, when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages could go ahead.

The two houses of Vermont's legislature voted last week for a same-sex marriage bill -- four votes short of a veto-overriding majority -- and Gov. Jim Douglas (R) vetoed it Monday. But Tuesday, several house members who voted against it last week switched sides to support the override, making gay marriage law.

The final vote was 100 to 49 to override the governor's veto. The initial vote last week was 94 to 52. Vermont has no mechanism for a citizen referendum to override the law.

As a personal side note, this is the first time in my life that I was so overwhelmed with joy that I broke down in tears, and on the bus no less. As several people have mentioned, it is only a matter of time now. Other states will follow. There is no going back on these giant steps of progress. And to update you as to the status of the domestic partnership bill in the Washington legislature right now, as of today, the bill was referred to the Rules Committee for its second reading. I believe that after that it goes to its third reading for a final vote, and then to the governor for its signing into law. At this point, it is (seemingly) going to pass without hesitation.

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