Shumlin, Smith say they'll push Legislature to adopt same-sex marriage

03/05/09 3:26PM By Ross Sneyd

AP/Toby Talbot
Vermont's legislative leaders committed today to passing a bill that would legalize full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin says the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings the week of March 16. He says he expects the committee to recommend a bill by the end of the week.

Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith announced the initiative on the same day that lawyers argued in the California Supreme Court whether a referendum overturning same-sex marriage was constitutional.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states that permit same-sex couples to marry. Vermont was the first state to adopt civil unions. Advocates say that falls short of full marriage and they've lobbied lawmakers to go farther.

Governor Jim Douglas says the Legislature should spend its time dealing with the economy.

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