"Passing this bill is the right thing to do at this time," said Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.
Shumlin and Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker, plan to push a marriage equality bill quickly through both chambers.
The bill would grant same-sex couples the right to marry in Vermont.
"We know that this issue could either be one that unifies or one that divides us and we want to ensure it's one that unifies us," Shumlin said.
Lawmakers know well how this could be a divisive issue.
When civil unions were legalized back in 2000 it sparked protests and the Take Back Vermont movement.
Opponents argued traditional marriage was at stake. Voters retaliated. And several lawmakers lost their seats that election year.
"The world has changed a lot since 2000," said Beth Robinson, an advocate of gay marriage.
Gay marriage advocates say civil unions were so controversial because Vermont was the first in the nation to legalize them.
But they've since paved the way for gay marriage in other states.
"Civil unions were a breakthrough at the time. But we never thought that civil unions created full equal rights for gay and lesbian Vermonters," Robinson said. "It's hard for me to imagine anyone would think that recognizing and respecting their lifetime partnership takes anything away from anybody else."
Robinson says full marriage rights offer same-sex couples more legal protections and the pride of being able to say you're married.
"We are changing the definition of marriage," said Craig Bensen, who opposes gay marriage.
Gay marriage opponents say marriage should remain between a man and a woman-- anything else threatens the institution of marriage.
"It is not a positive social good to create a permanent class of motherless and fatherless children," Bensen said.
Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, says this is not the time. He says it's too divisive of an issue when lawmakers should be working on the economic crisis.
"Jim Douglas is no fool," political analyst Garrison Nelson said.
But Nelson says the timing makes sense, it will pass this session, and the governor will ultimately let it.
"The anticipated horrors of civil unions never came to pass so consequently this is the logical next step," Nelson said. "Douglas won't sign the bill. He won't veto the bill. He'll let it become law without his signature."
The governor himself has not said whether he would sign a same-sex marriage bill. Lawmakers want this done quickly. They will take up gay marriage in a week-and-a-half and they plan to hold a public hearing at the Statehouse. But the discussion might not matter. Lawmakers say the opposition had an opportunity to weigh in during statewide public meetings held in the fall of 2007. Opponents say they boycotted the meetings because it was a quote "dog and pony show," and point out that the Freedom to Marry Task Force begins airing TV ads tonight-- the same day the press conference was held.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:49 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:49:06 GMT
An iconic Queen city park could be getting a major makeover. A final design has been approved for renovations on the City Hall Park on College Street. The plans include a performance stage, a new fountain,More >>
A final design has been approved for renovations on the City Hall Park on College Street.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:48 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:48:18 GMT
A solar project is taking off at the Burlington Airport. It comes thanks to a partnership with the Burlington Electric Department. The airport will be installing $1.5 million worth of solar equipment on topMore >>
A solar project is taking off at the Burlington Airport. It comes thanks to a partnership with the Burlington Electric Department.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:47 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:47:49 GMT
Burlington area bus drivers did not strike Monday but community members worry that the threat of one, is still very real. Many people spoke out Monday night at the Burlington city council, that they have majorMore >>
Burlington area bus drivers did not strike Monday but community members worry that the threat of one, is still very real.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:47 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:47:06 GMT
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president. The native Vermonter is returning to the Plainfield campus after servingMore >>
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:46 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:46:08 GMT
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. Authorities say the scammer told victims that they had missed juryMore >>
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-03-11 04:45:25 GMT
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her. The suspect was in a dirty dark green pickup truck with unknownMore >>
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:28 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:28:25 GMT
When Johanne Durocher Yordan looks at maps, she knows she's moving in the right direction. "I appreciate maps they're beautiful the legends the street name sections," said Johanne. Johanne gets inspiredMore >>
When Johanne Durocher Yordan looks at maps, she knows she's moving in the right direction.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:12:57 GMT
Many skiers have a mountain which they consider to be their home base -- their 'go to'. "It's my favorite place to ski. I've been skiing here for 25 years," said Alison Montgomery of Montreal.For MontgomeryMore >>
While some of us are looking forward to spring, diehard skiers aren't willing to give up on winter just yet, especially with the snowy forecast. Nick Borelli takes us to Smuggs.More >>