The Absurdity of Modern Discourse: Gov. Douglas and Gay Marriage

( – promoted by Christian Avard)

As the “debate” over gay marriage reaches critical mass in Vermont, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of shame.

The shame comes, not from the fact that Vermont is, rightly, taking up the issue and fighting for basic human rights for all, but because there is even a debate at all.

To me gay marriage is one of the great no-brainers of our time: treat people equally. It is civics 101, not to mention a constitutional requirement.

But when Gov. Jim Douglas, despicably, announced he would veto any gay marriage legislation that came to his desk, I was once again reminded, to steal a line from Kurt Vonnegut, “how embarrassing it is to be human.”  

It is appalling, both morally and intellectually.  When I heard his statement, I thought I was listening to George Wallace defend segregation as the governor of Alabama in 1963, not the governor of Vermont – arguably the most progressive and humane state in the country – in 2009.

Generations from now that fact that this was even debatable will be a monumental embarrassment for Americans, and Vermonters, everywhere.

There once was a time, not very long ago, when our country engaged in “serious debate” over whether or not it should be legal to enslave human beings or allow women to vote. Thankfully, due to the hard work of rational, humane people, these issues are no longer controversial.

And there can be little doubt that the gay marriage issue will run a similar course. It is inevitable they will be recognized in time, just as struggles in the past led to progress on women’s rights, African-American rights, disabled persons rights and so on.

This effort to discriminate against gays is ultimately a losing one. Societal progress almost always takes shape in the form of acceptance, a thankful reminder of our own humanity in the face of the bigotry we are witnessing by Gov. Douglas.

According to very detailed PEW report, young people – described as “Generation Next” – are by far the most tolerant generation ever. When it comes to gay rights, secularism, immigrants, interracial relationships, and even recreational drug use, young people are historically accepting of others compared to older generations, and young people polled generations ago. They are also less pious than any other age group, which is of significant given the Christian opposition to gay rights.  About half of Gen Nexters say the growing number of immigrants to the U.S. strengthens the country ­ more than any generation. And they also lead the way in their support for gay marriage and acceptance of interracial dating.

I don’t find this to be terribly surprising. Young people have now grown up around gays to the extent where the behavior seems entirely normal to most. Compare this to how older generations viewed homosexuality–as a social taboo punishable by an eternity in hell.

And by the time today’s young people become the country’s power brokers, gay marriage will likely be accepted in most states, and attempts to discriminate against them will be met with contempt not currently seen.

And those public officials, who tried to reason that gays need their own consolation prize, the civil union, and should be “separate but equal” from their heterosexual brethren, will be remembered through the lens of history as enablers of discrimination.

To be fair, this applies to many Democrats in the federal government, including the President.

But Governor Douglas’ pathetic ruminations on the subject from Wednesday assure himself a very special footnote in this unfortunate element of our history. He is one of  the first two governors in U.S. history to openly thwart a democratically-elected body’s decision to give gays the same right to marry as everyone else.

It is a detestable act now; years from now it will come across as bigotry pure and simple – a sad reminder of a time when politicians felt it was OK, even noble, to discriminate against gays.  

(NOTE: Made a small correction to reflect the comments about how the gov. of California also vetoed gay marriage legislation)  

3 thoughts on “The Absurdity of Modern Discourse: Gov. Douglas and Gay Marriage

  1. Public officials who claim that homosexuals should be “separate” from heterosexuals when it comes to those privileges that government controls, will be remembered through the lens of history as enablers of discrimination. Governor Douglas'

    ruminations on the subject assure himself a special footnote in this unfortunate history: the first governor in history to openly thwart a democratically elected body's decision to give gays the same rights as everyone else.

    It is a detestable act now; years from now it will [be universally recognized as] bigotry pure and simple – a sad reminder of a time when politicians felt it was OK, even noble, to discriminate . . .   

    With all that truly is important, and with all that truly does need grown-up attention, how the hell does anyone find the time to chase, find the time to exploit, find the time to advertise and find the time to distract all of us by campaigning to wear the mantle as the first EVER Vermont Governor to thwart a democratically-elected body's recognition that gays have the same rights as everyone else.

    We've had enough excuses made from fear, it's time to expect our leaders to give us decisions based on justice and made from reality.

    With all the difficult problems already in Montpelier with all those solutions not coming off the Governor's desk, where does our Governor find the time? What does it say about HIS priorities when he invests his resources thwarting a democratically-elected body's attempt to make our laws recognize that gays have the same rights as everyone else.

  2. If the bill passes, it will be the first time gay marriage has been the result of Legislation. But he is not hte first, but the second gov. to veto a bill.

    Gov. Douglas and Arnold have a lot in common, as I think they also both vetoed single-payer

  3. As Tom in Essex Junction pointed out to me on a different marriage thread, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed two such bills:

    fact check (4.00 / 1) [delete comment]

    IP Address:

    Jeff Young repeats a common misstatement of fact.  He says, “I think it is also important to note that no state legislature or referendum has passed gay marriage, and I don’t think we will see one (other than our own) any time soon.”

    The California legislature passed a marriage equality bill twice, with an election in between.  The governor vetoed it both times.  

    So, Governor Doesless can’t even claim to be the first — only the first in Vermont. And it’s really a second, since he was the first Vermont governor to veto a civil rights bill — the gender identity non-discrimination measure, the first version of which he vetoed and eventually signed a subsequent and virtually identical version (talk about having it both ways).


    The freedom to MARRY has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men [and women]. ~ SCOTUS, Loving v. Virginia (1967)

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