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Vermont bill allowing same-sex marriages advances

MONTPELIER, Vt. – After impassioned pleas from gay and lesbian legislators sharing their own love stories in front of hundreds of partisans packing the chamber, the Vermont House on Thursday advanced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry.

Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, told of seeing his and his partner’s civil union announcement in the newspaper in a “civil union” category separate from the marriage announcements.

“Why do we have to differentiate?” a weeping Lorber asked his House colleagues. “Why do we have to say you are different? Why can’t we just say ‘Congratulations’ ” when same-sex couples wed.

After about five hours of debate, the House gave the bill preliminary approval on a 95-52 roll call vote. The margin was less than the two-thirds majority that would be needed for the 150-member House to override Gov. Jim Douglas’ promised veto. The Senate previously passed the bill 26-4, so a veto override is seen as likely there.

Opponents of the measure spoke of their respect for its advocates. One, Rep. Albert “Sonny” Audette, D-South Burlington, expressed sadness at having concluded he was required by his church to vote no.

“I am a devout Catholic,” Audette said. “My religion at this point would not want me to vote for this. I wish that I could and I hope for the best and I congratulate the people who are trying to get this through.”

Only Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed it before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships, as do a handful of other states.

Rep. Duncan Kilmartin, R-Newport, said he feared that people who oppose same-sex marriage would have their beliefs impinged upon by the law. He said a Massachusetts court had ruled against parents who objected to their children being taught in a public school that gay and lesbian couples have “an acceptable lifestyle.”

“You do not have the right to demand that we approve same-sex marriage, even if you pass a law saying it’s the law of Vermont,” Kilmartin said.

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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