Monday, April 6, 2009

Advice to Vermont: Veto Your Governor!

Any governor who vetoes legislation that expands civil rights for groups that have faced a history of discrimination deserves to lose office. Nevertheless, Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont promises to veto a recent bill that legalizes same-sex marriage.

Lacking any good reason for justifying state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Douglas says that he -- like Obama -- believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He has also shamelessly argued that the debate over same-sex marriage distracts the state legislature from engaging in important work on fixing the economy.

Douglas, however, does not realize (or acknowledge) that his own personal beliefs do not provide a basis for sexual orientation discrimination. There are many ways that widely shared personal beliefs could limit marriage. For example, a lot of people believe individuals should not marry outside of their racial, class or religious backgrounds, but this would not provide a legitimate basis for legislation.

Rather than restraining rights while states like Iowa are moving forward, Douglas should have the courage to make a decision that is forward looking. If Douglas vetoes the equality measure, Vermont residents can do the same to him during the next election.

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