House veto override successful – Marriage Equality is now the law

Final override 100-49 in the House, and 23-5 in the Senate.


(Check below the fold for the email that went out from VT Freedom to Marry, as well as a statement from Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin)

Update —

House Roll Call – HERE

Senate Roll Call – HERE  

(From VT Freedom to Marry:

Vermont’s House and Senate made history today, overriding the Governor’s veto of S.115 and making Vermont the first state to embrace the freedom to marry through our elected representatives without a court order. Congratulations to all of us!

The final vote in the House was 49 votes to sustain the veto, and 100 votes to override it — an override by the slimmest of margins. We are deeply indebted to legislative leaders for recognizing the importance of our families and our rights, and to all those legislators who stood by us — some at considerable political risk. The courage that many leaders have shown over the past several weeks is inspiring, and we’ve seen the best of representative democracy in action. To our supporters in the Legislature: You have stood up for us, and we will stand with you in the days to come. We urge you to write each and every legislator (House and Senate) who stood with us on the override vote. Let them know you appreciate their support, and what they’ve been through.

This is a proud day for Vermont and Vermonters. Throughout this three and a half week process, we have engaged with one another with as much civility and respect as possible given the intensity of the heartfelt views many of us — across the spectrum — brought into this debate. And in the end, we did the right thing. The forces of justice, fairness and love proved far stronger than one man’s veto pen.

And along the way, we built new bridges. The debate galvanized the majority of Vermonters in the quest for fairness and inclusion, uniting the business community, clergy and ordinary folks from the four corners of our state. In our editorial pages we’ve seen compelling calls for justice, personal stories, and thoughtful analysis. And in communities around the state, thousands of Vermonters stepped up to the plate — writing your legislators, coming to the Statehouse, knocking on doors, and making phone calls. Some of you have never engaged in the political process before, and some hadn’t thought much about the freedom to marry until it hit the front page. But you opened your hearts, heard a better future calling, and dedicated yourself to making our world a more loving place.

And the courage of every single legislator, and the commitment of every single volunteer and donor, has made a difference. We made it over the top without a cushion. Every single one of us has truly mattered.

Your actions matter to Sandi and Bobbi, who can finally get married right here in their own home state after 42 years of committed life together — through life-threatening sickness, job loss, and the challenges of parenting, as well as the joys of raising a child, being grandmothers, and sharing each other’s company.

Your actions matter to Nina and Stacy who have spent a dozen years advocating for children of gay and lesbian parents — including their own. It matters to their son, Seth, who deserves to grow up in a world that recognizes, respects, and protects his family as much as any other.

Your actions matter to Scott, who as an adolescent struggling with his sexuality regularly contemplated suicide because he felt less worthy than his heterosexual siblings. And to the next generation of Scotts whose load will be lighter in a world where our laws don’t reinforce outdated social stigmas.

Your actions matter to kids that haven’t yet been born, youngsters who don’t yet realize how we made a better world for them, and soulmates yet-to-be-joined by fate or good fortune.

Vermont can serve as a beacon of hope to the kid on the playground in Indiana, bullied by his peers because he’s not macho enough. To the lesbian mother in Georgia in fear of losing custody of her child because she’s gay. And to the worker in Montana who is afraid to come out to his boss for fear of losing his job.

To all of you — thank you for making this difference!

We are planning a party, to celebrate justice and thank all who made it possible. Stay tuned for details. And thanks to all for proving that, in the end, love prevails!

From Senator Shumlin:

“Today Vermont legislators did the right thing by overriding Governor

Douglas’ veto and granting equal rights to all Vermonters. The

struggle for equal rights is never easy. I was proud to be President of

the Senate nine years ago when Vermont led the country by creating civil

unions. Today is another historic day for Vermont and I have never felt

more proud as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage

equality not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right

thing to do.”

“Many thanks to all the Vermonters who participated in this debate,

Vermont Freedom to Marry, MassEquality, the Human Rights Campaign, and

everyone who helped make today’s victory possible.”

So say we all. -odum)

UPDATE: For those who have not read it, here is the new law, 15 V.S.A. § 8 which now reads:  


Marriage is the legally recognized union of two people. When used in this chapter or in any other statute, the word “marriage” shall mean a civil marriage.

Full text, here.

38 thoughts on “House veto override successful – Marriage Equality is now the law

  1. I was listening to the livestream on VPR.  Amazing!  By the skin of their teeth — so much for people choosing to abstain on this one.

    I’m assuming from the numbers that 3 Dems did, indeed, switch sides?  Let us know when we know who they were.

  2. to be a Vermonter

    thanks to Shap & Shumlin and all those who said we’ve waited long enough

    and thanks to the Dems who voted no but then voted yes; I didn’t understand their no votes but I’m grateful for their decision to override the governor

    and thanks to those who brought the original law suit and their many allies who worked so hard for so long; a sweet victory

  3. To be honest I didn’t think they had it in them. I am so proud today to be a Vermont democrat. My party finally stood up to Doesless and achieved something historical.

    Way to go Dems and Progs and the Rhino’s who stood up for equality!

  4. Thank you to all the legislators who supported this bill.  It’s been a long time coming, and so sweet!  Who was it who said ‘hate doesn’t grow in the rocky soil of Vermont’ ???

    And who’s ready to help lay the groundwork for the defeat of our hapless Governor next year?  He is just so out of touch with the wishes of the people, whether it’s civil rights or making Vt. Yankee keep their promise to fund decommissioning of their aging nuclear reactor.

    We have to list all the issues and call him on them — what was he thinking?


  5. I am so thrilled the marriage equality bill passed and so honored to be a Vermonter!

    I wanted to be at the Statehouse today and could not.  I cannot imagine how the legislators and proponents of this bill felt while waiting for this whole process since Friday.  I know how stressed I felt!

    Thanks to all the proponents of marriage equality for always envisioning what could be and to all the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make it a reality.  

    Thanks to all the legislators who made this happen and never gave up achieving equality for all Vermonters.

    Special thanks to House Speaker Shap Smith and Majority Leader Floyd Nease for pushing through this veto override and to Senator John Campbell for his initial sponsorship and push of marriage equality throughout Vermont.

  6. I wanted to post a link to Julie’s article on Twitter.

    Vermont’s Marriage Equality has overloaded Twitter.

    Twitter Overload

  7. I ended up sitting in the downstairs gallery on the left (as you’re looking at the Speaker’s podium) in the back row — not far from where I sat 9 years ago to hear the House pass civil unions.

    Sitting directly in front of me (after prancing around the well of the House like she owned the place) was none other than former Northeast Kingdom sex-pack member Nancy Sheltra.

    The ratio of bright yellow “Legal Rights to Equal Rights” button-wearing people to pallid white “Protect” (?) or “Support” (?) “Traditional Marriage” sticker-wearing people was about 50-1.

    The morning ‘devotion’ was a song by the Montpelier High School Collegium, a mixed chorus of high school kids. The song was something about “teaching me to see beauty/the world with my own eyes.” Allen Gilbert of the ACLU fterward said, “That was inspired!”

    There was, as there was 9 years ago, an abortive (and prohibited) cheer in the gallery as the totals were announced. Shap’s voice broke as he read the numbers and said the bill was passed, the veto overridden. We would not have gotten to 100 without his vote.

    Sonny Audette (a Democratic No vote, who had promised to vote yes for the override) was absent. Rumor has it that he became ill yesterday after deciding that he couldn’t keep his promise.

    Interestingly, on VPR’s noon program, either Jane Lindholm or Bob Kinzel had made some remark about people going to their Town Clerks after September 1 for a “same-sex marriage license.” Fortunately, someone emailed in to correct that notion: they’ll be going to their Town Clerks for a marriage license — and that is the whole point.

    A sad note: Majority Leader Floyd Nease’s mother died this morning just before the House convened, which might have been behind his motion to suspend the rules and take up the bill before other more mundane business (like recognizing the ‘guests’ of various House members) was finished. He played a major role in marshalling the votes for the override. Our condolences to him and his family.

    And thanks to all — most all — of you for your support and prodding and demolishing of bogus arguments, and for keeping the pressure on.


    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)  

  8. For civil rights, for Vermont, and for our nation.

    Equal protection under the law and freedom of religion were both upheld today by the Vermont state legislature.

    Now those whose religions allow same gender marriage will be able to fully-participate in their churches for the first time.  And many roadblocks to equal treatment under the law have been removed for people who share loving relationships.

    It’s a good day.

    I hope everyone will reading will thank those legislator who voted for equality today.

  9. Floyd’s choice to move the vote early was expected. There were other important items on the calendar today, but the override became the main item and had to be done with a suspension of the rules.  He left the building soon after the vote was announced.

    I was proud to be a Vermonter this morning, a legislator involved in this process, and a witness to the glorious power of love.  We’re trained to sit in the well of the house as neutrally as possible, but it was hard, esp. after the collegium from Montpelier High.  They were awesome.  But the tension of the day returned immediately.  Nervous as cats, we were.

    Proud of Shap, proud of Shummy, proud of Campbell, thankful to Gaye for the study last year, proud of my peers.  

    It’s a good day.  

    Rep. Tom Stevens

  10. for voting for the override. It was a gutsy move.  We know he disagreed with the bill, and voted against it; but, in the end,  he recognized that the governor should not be allowed to take this decision away from the legislature.  That deserves some appreciation, even if we disagree with his views on the subject.

  11. We just returned to the mainland and I went 72 hours w/out a laptop (never thought I could do that). I go straight to GMD and what do I find? Un “fucking” believable news!

    Cue Al Michaels:



    See you all when I get back. Congrats to everyone. And Odum….. this is going to be one helluva BBQ this summer!

  12. It truly was an amazing day.  When we passed civil unions 9 years ago we knew it was a great step forward and yet incomplete.  Today we have finshed that journey started long ago (well before civil unions and before many, including myself, were involved).

    Thanks to the Dem leadership (House and Senate) to get the votes over this past weekend and the leadership to make this one of the issues of this session.  Also thanks to Beth and Robyn and all the organizers.  We were fortunate enough to be able to be the votes that cast “yes” but we know we were simply channeling so many who would have proudly done the same thing.

    Thanks to the 4 (of seven) R’s in the Senate for breaking the party barrier.  Thanks to the huge majority of Democrats who were supportive in the House (plus the 2 Independents, the 6 Republicans and the 5 of us Progs).

    Thanks to everyone who made phone calls, told their stories, wrote letters to the editor (and the editorial pages!)

    Especially thanks to Floyd who had to endure one of the saddest losses while coordinating the razor thin victory.  Truly a hero.

    For me, a special thanks to Mark Larson who has been a real leader throughout and who it has always been a pleasure to work alongside.

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