Veto Override Today

The Five People Who Will Decide Vermont Marriage

3367166239_0dfeff9a74On Monday, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the bill passed by the both branches of the legislature, which allowed gay marriage in the state. Minutes after his veto, Senate leaders promised to override it, with only one member planning on rejecting to the measure. Today, all eyes are on the House, which is expected to take up the gay marriage bill at 10:30am this morning.

The bill passed the House last week by a vote of 95-52. For the House to override Douglas’ veto, they must get a two-thirds majority, which means 100 votes, just five shy of the original vote. We won’t lie to you; it’s going to be a nail biter, but here are where we think Vermont will find the five votes needed to enact marriage equality.

Expected Votes to Override

Rep. Albert “Sonny” Audette

1audette A Democrat from Burlington, Audette gave a speech last Thursday on the Floor defending his ‘no’ vote and putting it context with his Catholic faith, but now says he intends to vote to override the veto, claiming that Douglas’ actions were disrespectful. He told the A.P.:

“We in the House are just as deserving of respect as he is,” Audette, a member of the house Transportation Committee, told the news service. “He seems to think we’re nothing but a bunch of peons down there.”

Rep. Debbie Evans

1evans A Democrat from Essex, Evans joined with Audette on Friday to say she will switch her vote when the override comes up– and for the same reasons, namely that Douglas’ announcement that he was going to veto the bill while the House was taking up the issue was bad form.

House Speaker Sap Smith

picture-12 A Democrat from Morristown, the Speaker of the House usually refrains from voting, though tradition allows him to vote on veto overrides. His vote to override is expected, but his real test will be corralling enough Democrats who voted against the the bill originally to switch. He says the today’s expected vote is not a test of his leadership, as legislators must vote their conscience, not their party.

That’s three votes down. Here’s where marriage equality supporters are hoping to find the rest.

Potential Votes

Rep. Cynthia Browning

1browning A Democrat from Arlington, Browning voted against the bill, but party leaders have been leaning on her hard to change her vote, threatening that they will target her for defeat in 2010 if she doesn’t. Browning says, “People are bringing to bear all the pressure that they can.”

Rep. Richard Westman

picture-31 A Cambridge Republican, Westman did not vote on Friday, but enjoys a committee chairmanship thanks to Speaker Smith. Even if he does vote for the veto override, his vote is likely to be offset by Rep. Patty O’Donnell of Vernon, who has indicated she will vote against override.

Kenneth Atkins

1atkins A Democrat from Winooski, Atkins has indicated that he felt that Douglas “violated the legislative process by declaring his intent” to veto while the House was still debating the measure, but has not indicated whether he will vote for the veto override. He voted against the measure last week.

Rep. Richard Howrigan

1howrigan A Democrat from Fairfield, Howrigan voted against the the marriage bill, but said that he has not made up his mind about the veto. Howrigan said that he would speak over the past weekend to his brother, who is gay, by phone about his decision.–Japhy Grant

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  • daftpunkydavid

    you guys should check out the burlington free press website. audette now says he is not sure how to vote. this thing is killing me. it’s like prop 8 all over again…

  • Bradley Holt

    Correction: it’s “House Speaker Shap Smith” not “House Speaker Sap Smith” – you’re missing an “h” in his name. It’s going to be really close today.

  • Wayne

    Jim Douglas wants Vermont to be the new Jim Crow State!

  • JoeB

    well, at least the senate overrode the veto 23-5. Now onto the house…

  • Stitch

    More bad grammar!
    “the bill passed by the both branches of the legislature”??
    “10:30 am this morning”?? As opposed to 10:30 am this afternoon??

    “The bill passed the House last week by a vote of 95-52. For the House to override Douglas’ veto, they must get a two-thirds majority, which means 100 votes, just five shy of the original vote.” Actually, 100 votes is NOT just 5 shy of 95. 95 is just 5 shy of 100.

    “but here are where we think…” Here ARE?

    I do not readed the rest of this that there piece due two the ridiciuoius ammmount of errorrs in it.

  • Alec

    They did it! VT is #4! And first by legislature!

  • villager

    hell yeah, vermont!

  • rae

    46 more!

  • Wayne

    VERMONT HAS DONE IT!!!!!! The override of Jim Douglas veto has been approved by both houses!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • fern

    To Alec: “They did it! VT is #4! And first by legislature!”
    Gnaa gna gnaa and Belgium was second after the Netherlands, gna gna gnaa and each time a new state is getting it I get a smile on my face, yours is the good fight the one for the future it will change people’s way of thinking and make the world a better place to live in.

  • tricky ricky

    we won. we won. we won. damned activist legislators! how dare they create a law which grants equal rights to a minority without a court telling them to! how dare they go against a governor who said second best is good enough during their debate?

    i have been to the fox forum for this story. the anti gays are fruitcakes. and bigots. their reasoning is just vile and stupid.

    and i love it. it proves me righter and righter each and every day. paradigm (sp). the arguments they are using do not fly and the rhetoric is such that it cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. supernatural reasoning is all they have.

    people are getting sick of it.

    Conservatism is an unholy alliance between religion and the body politic which sets itself up for failure due to its absolutism and its claim that it cannot fail. Yet all it has done is fail, and fail, and fail. It is just like communism, but with God.

    pass it on. it is why the times are changing. it is getting to the point where their screaming is going to do them in royally.

    it is all part of a bigger picture.

    there are people out there that might not like gays but are going to get fed up with the specious hateful arguments against gays. they will realize the utter stupidity of it.

    and they will join our side.
    they will still not like the gays, but who cares if they don’t hurt you. we are allowed outr own personal private bigotries. we just learn to keep them to ourselves and not act like eric cartman. although i do so hate hippies, midgets and ginger kids. especially hippy midget ginger kids.

    damn i almost feel good.

    look at the big picture and all the news. the vatican is spreading lies about the shroud of turin. they are saying it is older than it actually is and using the knights templar to do it.

  • tricky ricky

    @Aaron J.: thank you for that link. that is the exact type of talk that is going to get people to start changing their minds. who would want to know a person who spouts like that? can you just image what they are like on other stuff? they are forcing the change and are too stupid to realize it.

  • fern

    @tricky ricky: Many hetero people support the LGBT movement as for those who don’t (the older generations) they need things explained to them not thrown in their faces. As for the knights of the temple you’re totally off. The order was put off by pope whatchamacallit on the insistence of the king of France Philippe Le Bel and they were burnt at the stake, the accusation was homosexuality this happened in the 1300’s. I’m very happy VT joined the club and more states will follow suit in the near future, but “We won, we won, we won” sounds too much like soccer fans and I don’t have time for these.

  • linda

    @fern: this makes me sick, it is an abonimation in Gods eyes, and in most Vermonters eyes. Another law shoving gays down our throat, When will you realize it doesn’t matter what Vermont thinks, God is against this, and That is all that matters. I will stand with God, I will not support this, no mater what the state thinks, Anyone, with a moral consience, will not agree with this.

  • fern


    That it is an abomination in your eyes I can understand, but come now, in God’s eyes? God is against this?
    I can understand your repulsion at the homosexual act, even gay people may have been repulsed at first, as this is due to our environment and upbringing. To use your rhetoric why would God create something he can’t stand? I wish you would question yourself about God and the part he is MADE to play in our society, I wish you would be less gullible. People told you God was against it, God never told YOU, you’re just echoing what power hungry church leaders are pushing down your throat.
    I can only hope that you would think for yourself without influence.

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