Vermont's governor orates loudly about wiring his state for internet and cellphone access. When it comes to marriage equality though, he's a mumbler and a bit of a milquetoast.
At the News(s) England Revolution conference at UMASS-Lowell yesterday, Jim Douglas gave the keynote. He also chairs the region's governor's council. He's a nice guy, in a sort of tax accountant way, in appearance and mannerisms.
I sandbagged him afterward asking about the likelihood of civil unions migrating into same-sex marriage in Vermont. His state was the nation's first to offer the approximation of marriage for homosexual couples, beginning seven years ago. That followed the state Supreme Court ruling in Baker v. Vermont at the end of 1999.
The decision has been great for civil rights. It's worked real well and other states can see how benign and easy it is.
One would think the pioneer would be the next state for full marriage rights in this kind of civil contract. Also, pressure has grown in the state to move from unions to marriage. There is a fair possibility that the legislature will pass such legislation this year or next at the latest.
I asked Douglas if a same-sex marriage law appeared on his desk if he'd sign it. He neither shouted at me nor reached for the smelling salts, although I think he was closer to doing the latter.
Douglas turned from that orator to that mumbler. "I guess I'm for the status quo," he said softly.
He claimed to "remember the angst of seven years ago." He also said that he did not expect (I heard in my head he hoped) that no such bill would pass.
He deflected any philosophic points or legal ones. Instead he would say, "I'd rather concentrate on other issues."
Maybe Deval Patrick can chat him up on this.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, conference, Lowell, Vermont, James Douglas, same-sex marriage, civil unions