In a special session, the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly votes to legalize gay marriage. The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows same-sex marriage.
The state Senate voted 26-4 in favor of the measure introduced by Democratic Sen. John Campbell. Later this week the bill goes to the state House, where Speaker Shap Smith, also a Democrat, predicts a majority would vote in favor of the bill.
"This was a tremendous victory for equal rights," said Campbell, majority leader of the Vermont Senate and chief sponsor of the bill. "Vermont will be the first state to enact this legislation without a court order. It was pretty clear that the facts dictated this. This is an equal rights issue."
It is not clear whether Vermont's Republican Governor Jim Douglas will sign the bill. Douglas opposes same-sex marriage and maintains the civil unions legislation is sufficient. His staff would not say whether he would veto the legislation. It is unclear if there are "enough votes in the Democrat-controlled House to override a gubernatorial veto."
Later this week, a similar bill is scheduled for a vote in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.