MONTPELIER, Vt. --The Vermont legislature took another step Tuesday toward legalizing "gay marriage" when a House committee easily passed a bill that would recognize such relationships, sending it to the full chamber.
The bill passed 8-2, with seven Democrats joining one Republican in supporting it, and two Republicans opposing it, The Burlington Free Press reported. It is expected to pass the House, although both sides are unclear whether it will be by a two-thirds, veto-proof majority, as it was in the Senate. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas has promised to veto it. The House could vote on it as early as Friday. The bill is S. 115.
Bill supporters are hoping Vermont becomes the first state voluntarily to legalize "gay marriage."
Austin R. Nimocks, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes the bill, said legalizing "gay marriage" would result in dramatic social change.
"Politicians should never impose a system that knowingly deprives a child of a mom and a dad," Nimocks said in a statement. "All non-partisan research and plain common sense tells us that children need a mom and dad, so the issue is bigger than a 'personal relationship.' In the end, the question is this: Which parent doesn't matter: a mom or a dad?"
The bill would change the definition of marriage in state law from the "legally recognized union of one man and one woman" to the "legally recognize union of two people."
The House committee added an amendment to the bill to strengthen its religious freedom protections, although critics say the protections are weak and far too narrow and that, as Massachusetts has shown, religious freedoms naturally are curtailed when "gay marriage" is legalized. For instance, after the definition of marriage was changed in Massachusetts, the state's Catholic Charities got out of the adoption business altogether instead of being forced by the state to place children with homosexuals and homosexual couples.
The addition of the amendment in the committee means that if the bill passes the House, it either must return to the Senate for a vote or the two chambers must form a conference committee to work out the differences.
Nine years ago Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex civil unions, which grant all the legal benefits of marriage, minus the name. Only two states -- Massachusetts and Connecticut -- recognize "gay marriage," although both changes in law came via court-order.
"Vermont is proof that so-called 'civil unions' are never a satisfactory answer to protecting marriage," Nimocks said. "Same-sex 'marriage' advocates for years have attempted to use civil unions as yet another way to undermine marriage. The truth is that you can't talk about civil unions or domestic partnerships without talking about same-sex 'marriage' because there really isn't any difference. The goal is the same."
Read the Opposing Views debate, Should Same-Sex Marriage be Legal?
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