Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 95-52 to legalize gay marriage, short of the two-thirds margin needed to override Gov. Jim Douglas' promised veto. So, gay marriage is dead for the year in Vermont, right?
As it turns out, we still don't know. The Burlington Free Press article included this paragraph:It was unclear Thursday night whether supporters of the bill could muster the 100 votes that would be needed to override a veto that Gov. Jim Douglas has said is coming. Some Democrats who voted against the bill have said they would change course and vote for an override.
Why exactly someone would vote against the bill and then vote for a veto override is beyond me, but that's what they're saying. Eleven Democrats opposed the bill, so the question is how many will change their votes. If five change their minds (and everyone else stays put), the veto will be overridden.
In fact, it may not take five votes. Speaker of the House Shap Smith, a big gay marriage supporter, was one of the three members who didn't vote (the other two were Republicans). I'm not sure if it's a tradition in Vermont for the speaker not to vote (that's my guess) or if there was a procedural reason he didn't weigh in on the topic, but Smith could be another vote for an override.
Another complication: The Vermont Constitution doesn't actually require 100 votes in the House of Representatives to override the governor's veto. It simply requires the support of two-thirds of those who are present. Ninety percent of a veto override, as with life, is just showing up.
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