Governor Jim Douglas’ Statement on the Same-Sex Marriage Veto



Preparing for Tuesday Showdown —Will it hold?

Gov. Jim Douglas’ Statement on the Veto

Text of Communication from Governor

The text of the communication from His Excellency, the Governor, whereby he vetoed and returned unsigned Senate Bill No. 115 to the Senate is as follows:

“April 6, 2009

The Honorable David A. Gibson
Secretary of the Senate
State House
115 State Street, Drawer 33
Montpelier, VT 05633

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning S.115, An Act Relating to Civil Marriage, without my signature 651 MONDAY, APRIL 06, 2009 because of my objections described herein. I do so recognizing that this is an issue that is intensely personal, with strongly held beliefs and convictions on both sides. But I am charged by our Constitution to act on this legislation and by its return, I have fulfilled that responsibility.

The question of same sex marriage is an issue that does not break cleanly as Republican or Democrat, rural or urban, religious or atheist. The decision to support or oppose is informed by an amalgam of experience, conviction and faith. These beliefs are deeply held, passionately expressed and, for many legislators, infinitely more complex than the ultimate ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ required to fulfill the duty of their office.

On such an intensely personal issue as this, all members must do as their individual conscience dictates, with the best interest of their districts in mind.

It is for those reasons that I have not sought to lobby members of my own party, or asked opponents to sustain my veto.

This legislation does not address the inequalities espoused by proponents.

Regardless of whether the term marriage is applied, federal benefits will still be denied to same sex couples in Vermont. And states that do not recognize same sex marriage or civil unions will also deny state rights and responsibilities to same sex couples married in Vermont. This bill will not change that fact.

Vermont’s civil union law has afforded the same state rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage to same sex couples. Our civil union law serves Vermont well and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same sex unions. But I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

I hope that when the legislature makes its final decision, we can move our state forward, toward a bright future for our children and grandchildren. We still have a great deal of work ahead of us to balance our budget and get our economy going again and Vermonters are counting on us to work together to get the job done.

James H. Douglas



  1. beetlebabee said,

    April 6, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Just in time for the 6 PM News, the Same-Sex Marriage bill (S.115) collided with the promised veto from Gov. Jim Douglas (see his statement below).

    As most observers believe that there are less than a dozen votes “in play”, this issue is not settled until the last vote — “Will the House sustain or override Governor Douglas’ veto?”

    At present the Senate has scheduled a vote for Tuesday. In the House, the final vote might occur on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

    The 52 NO votes to S.115 in the House are enough to keep the veto but we have to keep the votes. Some, especially the Democrats who voted NO will be under huge pressure to switch “for the sake of the party.” Some might not even be there on the day of the vote to avoid a difficult decision.

    The swing votes are the names are highlighted in bold on the “who voted how” list below. Several have made statements to the press about their vote. Let me know if you have press reports about any of the swing vote names.

    We have these things yet to do:

    1) The House will be in session all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. We need to be in the Statehouse for those days. The other side will be. Our presence encourages the Representatives who are with us.

    2) Contacting the “swing votes” (the BOLD’s listed below) asking for their support of the veto.

    3) Saying “thank you” to the Representatives who have voted with us.

    the reps and how they voted are listed at the bottom of this post:

  2. Euripides said,

    April 6, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    “But I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.”

    One person in the Vermont government gets it.

  3. FullWithFaith said,

    April 7, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Didn’t hold….sigh

  4. morsec0de said,

    April 7, 2009 at 7:42 am

    And the veto was overturned.

    At least now the anti-ssm folks can’t say that the pro-gay marriage laws are all the result of ‘activist judges’.

  5. Liz said,

    April 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Right, because activist legislators are much better. Poor children.

  6. morsec0de said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

    “Poor children.”

    What children?

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