VT Senate To Discuss Constitutional Amendment Banning Same Sex Marriages

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The Vermont Senate will soon debate a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban homosexual marriages. If approved, the vote would have the effect of overturning the state Supreme Court's recent ruling that homosexuals have been denied the benefits of married couples and that the denial is unconstitutional.

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-to-1 to forward the amendment to the full Senate irrespective of whether the full committee votes in favor of the bill. However, in deciding to forward the proposal, the committee did so without first stipulating whether it recommended adoption by the full Senate.

The proposed amendment, presented by State Senator Vincent Illuzzi, reads," Marriage is the legal union of one man and one woman. The general assembly shall define the legal benefits associated with marriage. No provision of this constitution shall be held to require that any such benefits and responsibilities be extended by the general assembly or the judiciary to any grouping of people other than one man and one woman."

Legislators, who favor granting homosexual couples the benefits enjoyed by their married counterparts, have frequently urged the full Senate to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

However, the Supreme Court said in its ruling that the Common Benefits Clause of the state constitution mandates that the benefits of marriage be conferred equally, whether through the marriage laws or a parallel set of laws.

While the House, in approving a "civil union" bill, rejected same sex marriage, it approved granting homosexual couples the same rights as enjoyed by their married heterosexual counterparts through the creation of the civil unions.

Opponents of the civil union bill contend the legislation would establish a parallel system of marriage for homosexual couples.

Illuzzi said his measure would define marriage in the constitution while giving the legislature the right to decide who should receive the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Discussion of the proposed amendment could begin as early as next week.