Vermont: Marriage Equality “Fast Tracked” To Pass This Month

Lawmakers in Vermont are “fast tracking” their marriage equality bill, which is widely expected to pass both chambers of the state legislature by the end of the month.

The bill is one of several House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin said will be among their priorities when the Legislature reconvenes March 17. Among the others were economic development, campaign finance and Vermont Yankee decommissioning bills. “It’s become clear we can and should work to pass a bill promoting the equal right to marry this year,” Shumlin said. “We are capable of doing more than one thing at a time.” Shumlin laid out a schedule that will fast track the bill through the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee will start taking testimony March 16 and will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m., March 18, he said. The committee is expected to send the bill to the full Senate by March 20, he said. Shumlin and Smith expressed confidence that the bill would pass their chambers.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) opposes marriage equality but hasn’t said whether he’ll veto the bill. However any veto by Douglas would be easily overridden in the state Senate. In the House, the votes to override are “probably there.” Democrats lost control of the Vermont House nine years ago in what most consider to have been a backlash against the approval of civil unions.