Gov. Douglas' Response | Freyne Land

Gov. Douglas' Response

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Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas was one happy three-term Republican incumbent at his Wednesday press conference.

The opposition party, the alleged majority party, appears in disarray.

Everyone I've told about the new Symington-Shumlin Commission that will hold public hearings and "study" gay marriage - Republican, Progressive and Democrat - has looked at me like I was pulling their leg.

I wasn't.

Asked for his reaction to the Democrats' surprise highlighting of gay marriage at his Montpeculiar 1 pm presser, the governor of DNC Chairman Howard Dean
's home state [yes, the same Ho-Ho who signed the historic civil unions bill in secret back in 2000, behind closed doors] said:

My position on that has been quite consistent. We went through a very difficult experience seven years ago when the Legislature enacted the civil unions law. I think during that time most Vermonters have come to accept it. I don’t think it would be in the state’s best interests to reopen those wounds, to have that controversial debate, because we’ve extended full privileges, full legal rights and benefits to same sex couples.

I really think it’s important for the Legislature to work with me to focus on what is most important to everybody in Vermont, and that’s the cost of living here, making sure that all Vermonters can pay the property tax bills that have just arrived in mailboxes during the past few weeks.

I want to make sure that Vermonters can afford to buy gasoline, get to work and to school and do the errands that are so important to their families, to get a decent job, to get good health care coverage.

Those are the real priorities for the people of our state and I hope the Democratic legislators will work with me to achieve them.


PRESS: Is your only opposition it would be divisive to open this up? What if it turns out most Vermonters are in favor of this?

DOUGLAS:  I don’t want to speculate on what recommendations might come. I gather, based on the schedule outlined by the Democrats, they don’t plan for the current biennial legislative session to take it up, so I think it’s something that will be talked about well into the future.

PRESS: But do you have concerns beyond it being divisive?

DOUGLAS: Same-sex couples have the same benefits and rights and privileges of marriage now. In 2000 the Legislature fashioned a compromise that was difficult to achieve, but one that most Vermonters have now come to accept. It was a very difficult experience. Those of you who were in Montpelier at the time recall that and I think we really need to devote our energies to the cost of living in Vermont, to improving economic opportunity and hope for the future of our people.

PRESS: So are you saying we don’t need another law on this issue?

DOUGLAS: I don’t believe we do.

He didn't beat around the bush, did he?


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