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Vermont House Outlaws Gay Marriage

March 17, 2001

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ The Vermont House formally passed an explicit ban on gay marriage Friday, but senators said they don’t plan to act on the bill, dooming its chance to become law.

The bill would not undo the groundbreaking civil union law approved last year. Civil unions run parallel to marriage, granting all of its rights, benefits, and responsibilities, but remain a separate legal entity.

The Republican-controlled House had approved the bill Thursday in a preliminary vote after an emotional, three-hour debate.

Supporters said the bill was needed to clearly state that marriage is not between two men or two women under Vermont law. Opponents said the civil unions law is already clear and an additional statute is unnecessary.

Rep. George Schiavone said his goal was to preserve traditional marriage.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin said the bill was a reactionary political statement and reflected anti-gay bias.

``I think that the House, by playing politics with this bill, is awfully close to baiting a minority group that should receive the same respect as everyone else in the state,″ Shumlin, a Democrat, said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Sears said the panel was unlikely to consider the bill.

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