Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Vermont Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: Overrides Veto

Vermont now becomes the 4th state to legalize same sex marriage.  I wasn’t sure they could override the governor’s veto. I knew the votes were there in the VT senate, but it was close in the house. This is a huge victory.  Look for the same thing to happen in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, conservatives are working to undo the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality.  I wasn’t worried about this, at first.  Unlike in CA, it is difficult to amend the IA state constitution.  In normal cases, both houses of the state legislature would have to vote to amend the constitution in identical wording TWO YEARS in a row and then it would have to be validated by popular ballot. So, the earliest they could reverse the decision would be 2012, by which time people would have seen that the sky doesn’t fall with marriage equality.

But conservatives in IA are seeking a way around this. They are trying to force a constitutional convention and making it an issue for Gov. Chet Culver (D)’s 2010 reelection.  If successful, that could lead to a repeat of Prop 8 in CA where legal rights of a minority are taken away by popular ballot–a process that would threaten everyone.

So, congrats to VT and let’s keep an eye on IA.

D.C.’s City Council voted today to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Oh, NH’s House has passed marriage equality and it is expected to pass the NH Senate.  NH’s governor has,  like VT’s,  promised a veto.  Maine’s legislature is expected to debate marriage equality beginning on 24 April 2009.  And we await a decision of the CA supreme court as to whether Prop. 8 was itself constitutional.

April 7, 2009 - Posted by | GLBT issues


  1. I want to see a case go to the Supreme Court. If the court would do its job correctly, I just can’t see how taking away minority rights by popular vote would be constitutional.

    Comment by Ralph Reed | April 7, 2009

  2. Ralph, let’s have a few more states first. Then, the commerce clause could be used to say that marriage equality is the law of the land. This was what happened in 1967 with mixed race marriages in Loving v. Virginia.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 7, 2009

  3. Exactly what does the commerce clause have to do with marriage equality?

    Comment by haitianministries | April 7, 2009

  4. Daniel, I’m not a lawyer, but this is how things are explained to me. The commerce clause means that states have to recognize contracts approved in other states. So, since civil marriages are contracts, denying marriages in one state that were valid in another are unconstitutional.

    That was part of the argument in Loving v. Virginia. At least this is the way to get the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Loving v. Virginia is excellent precedent for marriage equality–but we have a MUCH more conservative court, now.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 7, 2009

  5. The commerce clause has more to do with federalism and federal jurisdiction. Think of a Venn diagram (remember them?) One circle represents federal powers (enumerated and implied) and the other circle represents states’ powers (everything else). The commerce clause gives the fed gov’t power to “regulate commerce” among the states. Usually that means something bought and sold and/or transported out of state.

    Marriage is traditionally in the state power circle.

    The full faith and credit clause requires states to enforce contracts created in other states, with important exceptions. So the issue is whether this is one of those exceptions. If so, then every state has to honor the same-sex marriages Mass. and Ca. created, even if it against our states’ public policy and laws.

    That’s a real states’ rights issue.

    Comment by K Gray | April 7, 2009

  6. “If so…” should say “If not….” in last comment.

    Comment by K Gray | April 7, 2009

  7. K., thanks for this clarification. I told you good folks that I am not a lawyer. 🙂

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 8, 2009

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: