While some silly gay marriage advocates see a popular groundswell for gay marriage in court decisions, the vote today of Vermont’s legislature to override Governor Douglas’s veto of legislation providing for state recognition of same-sex unions is the first indication we have that popular opinion could be turning in favor of gay marriage.
Instead of turning to courts, we should be going through legislatures. I believe that is the better way to build a consensus for same-sex marriage as this process may well have shown.
Unlike California whose gargantuan legislative districts (each state Senate district has more residents than the entire population of the Green Montain State) prevent our state legislators from regular interaction with all but a handful of their constituents, Vermont has one of the largest state Houses in the country, with nearly twice the representatives of California’s corresponding house. And the population of Vermont is approximately 2% of California’s.
Whereas our Golden State legislators respond more readily to interest groups than constituents, those in the Green Mountain State have such small constituencies that their own constituents have ready access to them. And since their legislative responsibilities are not full-time jobs, they have to return to live and work in their jurisdictions.
In short, they’re going to hear from their constituents about their vote on gay marriage.
By the end of the month, the Vermont legislature will adjourn for the year and its legislators will return home (well, some legislators return from Montpelier each night while others goes back on the weekend) and face their constituents. My sense is that they wouldn’t have voted for this bill if they feared a popular backlash back home.
So, the tide may be turning, in the Green Mountain State at least.
*Not entirely happy with this title. Already changed it once.
Spent too much time on Vermont legislature’s web-site confirming (and learning) details such that when post was done was eager to get it up that I hastened to put a title on it. Wanted to suggest sense that (1) legislature is appropriate branch of government to handle such issues and (2) significance of size of legislative districts in Green Mountain State as indicative of popular appeal of this proposal–or lack of significant popular opposition.
Don’t think title conveys all that. For the record, I’m not always happy with my titles.
UPDATE: I wonder if gay liberals will note conservative and libertarian bloggers who are saying that Vermont, is as one put it, doing it the right way by effecting gay marriage through the legislature.