MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Gov. Jim Douglas on Monday issued his promised veto of a gay marriage bill, setting up what’s bound to be a close vote in the House on Tuesday as supporters try to muster the two-thirds majority needed for an override.

“This legislation does not address the inequalities espoused by proponents,” the Republican governor said in a prepared veto message.

“Regardless of whether the term marriage is applied, federal benefits will still be denied to same sex couples in Vermont,” he said. “And states that do not recognize same sex marriage or civil unions will also deny state rights and responsibilities” to same-sex couples.

Douglas’ veto was anticipated. He announced his intention to issue it March 25, before the House acted.

Lawmakers said they would attempt veto override votes Tuesday in the Senate and House, both controlled by Democrats. The Senate, which approved the bill 26-4 last month, is expected to go first and vote easily to override.

The House voted 95-52 to approve the bill on Thursday, just short of the two-thirds of the 150-member body needed for an override.

“I’m still talking to members and we’re hoping for a number that is two-thirds,” said House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown. The speaker said he was trying to appeal to members’ loyalty to the Legislature and its prerogatives.

“The House voted 95-52 to support civil marriage and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to support it,” Smith said. “I really think it’s about saying the majority of the Legislature made a decision and should one person stand in the way of the majority of the Legislature’s decision.”

An opponent of the bill, Sen. Hull Maynard, R-Rutland, said he was pleased with the veto.

“There’s not one benefit I wouldn’t want each committed couple to have,” Maynard said of the range of rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. But he said he agreed with Douglas that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. “It should be continued to mean what it always has meant,” he said.

Supporters said they were disappointed by the veto but not surprised. They vowed to introduce similar legislation in upcoming years if the House does not override the governor’s vote.

Both Smith and Beth Robinson, chairwoman of Vermont Freedom to Marry, cited a decision Friday by Iowa’s high court legalizing same-sex marriage in that state as indicating the country is moving in that direction.

“We’re not going away,” Robinson said.


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