Supporters of same-sex marriage target lawmakers in override vote

04/07/09 5:53PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot
Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, right, gets a hug from Stan Baker following the passage of a gay marriage bill in Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, April 7

(Host) Supporters of the same sex marriage bill targeted two different groups of lawmakers in their effort to override Governor Douglas's veto of their legislation.

VPR's Bob Kinzel examines the strategy that supporters used to achieve a two thirds majority in the House.

(Kinzel) Backers of the bill needed 100 votes in the House and that's exactly what they got. The vote ended several days of intense lobbying on both sides of this issue.

Supporters needed all 6 Republicans who voted for the bill last week to override the governor's veto and they got them.

Dorset Rep. Patti Komline is one of the 6. Her support was important because she serves as the GOP leader in the House. 

Komline says she views this bill as a civil rights issue:

(Komline) "This was not a party issue -  there are Democrats who voted against it and there were Republicans on both sides as well. People felt strongly -  had personal feelings strongly and I'm glad it's over we can put this behind us and move on towards addressing the fiscal issues that are really important to all Vermonters."

Northfield Republican Ann Donahue says she voted for the override because she feels there's a clear constitutional difference between civil and religious marriage:

(Donahue) "I don't see the word as being as critical as the understanding and I think we do understand marriage in very different contexts different faith beliefs and the state and the state in terms of civil marriage is a different role in a different context."

Supporters also targeted the 11 Democrats who voted against the bill last week.  

Of this group, 3 voted to override the veto; Essex Rep. Debbie Evans, St. Johnsbury Rep. Robert South and St. Albans Rep. Jeff Young. One member was absent, South Burlington Rep. Sonny Audette.

9 years ago, when the House passed the Civil Union law, a number of lawmakers who voted for the bill lost their seats in the November election including former Washington Rep. Marion Milne.  She returned to the Statehouse to witness the override vote:

(Milne) "I was thrilled and I think it's a civil rights issue and the state of Vermont has done a wonderful thing today and I'm very happy."

And Milne thinks some lawmakers who voted for the same sex marriage bill this year might face some backlash at the polls in 2010:

(Milne) "I said in my last speech I didn't think I'd keep my seat and I felt it was worth it and I feel many representatives did the same thing today."

The new law will go into effect on September 1st.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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