Monday, April 06, 2009

VT Plodding to Surprise End Game

  1. Senate passes same-sex marriage
  2. Governor swears veto of the bill passes
  3. House passes slightly amended version
  4. Senate concurs with tweaks (about 6:20 minutes into the feed)
  5. Governor vetoes the bill
So there we have it, boys and girls. Senate concurrence by voice vote and Gov. Jim Douglas' veto occurred between 5 and 6 p.m. today. He said that SSM provides no additional benefits over civil unions.

His statement, prepared in advance, cites the basis of "an amalgam of experience, conviction and faith". He neither mentions nor implies that justice or legal principles figure in his or the lawmakers' decision. It remains my view that he based this question of equality and fairness on his emotions.

Tomorrow at 9 a.m., the Senate plans to vote to override his veto. They started with 26 of 30 votes in favor. So getting the 20 (two-thirds) to override should be no problem.

Now for the thrills, chills and somebody getting a big surprise. The House plans to take up its override tomorrow — Vermont Freedom to Marry estimates between 10 a.m. and noon. No one knows whether there will be full attendance (or some reps will hide from supporting an override), there would be two thirds (100 if all 150 reps show), and there will be reps from both parties who are so angry at Douglas' heavyhandedness that they switch from no on the bill to yes on the override.

By the bye, the House margin on Friday, April 3rd, was 94 to 52 for the bill. One pro-SSM rep was absent. So, there'd need to be some combination of switching or abstaining to make it happen.

After futzing around for nine years after being the first civil-union state, Vermont has come this close this fast in the last two years of study, debate and public hearings. Douglas clearly has made a huge political gamble, one I bet will be known as the biggest loss and miscalculation of his life. Yet, we don't know yet whether the legislature will have to redo this in a year or two to make it happen.

If you pray, do it for equality. Likewise, if you lobby, do that for equality. This has come too close with too much support from the voters and lawmakers alike to fail.

Juicy Politics: The Bennington Banner has a pointed piece on how the Dems are squeezing and coaching their own in the House who voted no on the bill. An anti-SSM rep, Timothy Corcoran "said lawmakers are facing heavy pressure to cast their votes in certain ways, but he declined to elaborate on who was applying that pressure."
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