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Vermont gay marriage bill passes through House

Jessica Geen April 3, 2009

A bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in Vermont has passed through the House of Representatives.

However, it failed to gain enough votes to avoid a veto from Vermont governor Jim Douglas.

Lawmakers voted 95-52 in favour of the measure, but 100 votes are needed for a two-thirds majority to override the threat of a veto.

The Bill will today be sent back to the Senate for approval of changes sought by the House.

It will then proceed to Governor Douglas, who said at a news conference last week that the state’s current civil partnership provision gave gay couples adequate rights and added that marriage should “remain between a man and a woman”.

“For those reasons and because I believe that by removing any uncertainty about my position we can move more quickly beyond this debate, I am announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches my desk,” he said.

Douglas, a Republican, has called for lawmakers to focus on the economy rather than gay marriage.

However, he has said he has not pushed his fellow Republicans to oppose the Bill, saying: “This is such a tough, personal, emotional decision that I have not told people what to do.”

If the bill is approved, Vermont will join Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only US states that allow gay marriage.

Civil unions in Vermont were legalised in 2000 but offered only some of the benefits available to straight married couples.

The new bill will grant gay and lesbian couples access to Social Security benefits available to straight married couples. They would also be able to claim joint health insurance and make emergency medical decisions.

More: Americas

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