Nine years ago, Vermont adopted the nation's first civil unions law. Today, it reached another milestone by becoming the fourth state—along with Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—to legalize gay marriage. Vermont is the first state to allow same-sex marriage through legislative action instead of a court ruling.
The Vermont Legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage. The vote was 23 to 5 to override in the state Senate and 100 to 49 to override in the House. Under Vermont law, two thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.
Douglas has reportedly called the issue of gay marriage a distraction. "What really disappoints me is that we have spent some time on an issue during which another thousand Vermonters have lost their jobs," the governor said yesterday. "We need to turn our attention to balancing a budget without raising taxes, growing the economy, putting more people to work."
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Iowa's state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday, making Iowa the first state in the Midwest to recognize such marriages. Same-sex marriage proponents hope more states will follow.
In July, California's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, but the ruling was overridden in November by the Proposition 8 ballot initiative.