The Vermont Senate has given overwhelming approval to same-sex marriage.
The bill passed just before 6 p.m. Monday on a vote of 26 to 4.
In many ways this is just a procedural step-- but it's a big step. The bill now heads to the Vermont house for a larger debate with state representatives.
The same-sex marriage legislation was introduced by Sen. John Campbell, a Democrat from Windsor County. He's heterosexual and Catholic but said Monday gays and lesbians are Vermonters too who make important contributions to our state and deserve full marriage rights.
"You know who those 'they' people are? They're our policemen, our firefighters, our teachers, garbagemen, the guy who plows the street. They're our children. Our sisters, brothers, they're human beings, and as such, as it's said in this bill, they should be treated equally," Campbell said.
Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin County, said, "Like President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Governor Douglas, I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman. Marriage as we've known it for centuries has been between one man and one woman and it's unique. It's the only publicly-sponsored institution that can result in the procreation of children."
The senators spent much of their time debating an amendment put forth by Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin of Rutland County. He wanted the people of Vermont to vote on same-sex marriage in March of 2010 but the amendment was voted down largely along party lines. The argument was that lawmakers were elected to make tough decisions, and they didn't want to open up Vermont to influence from out of state interest groups.
So again, the headline Monday is the state Senate has OK'd gay marriage. Now the House takes it up and supporters think they have good numbers in the house.
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