Legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Vermont went into effect today, with several couples wed just after midnight. Bill Slimback, who married his long-time partner Bob Sullivan, told the Associated Press, “It’s a day I’ve been long waiting for, and a day I truly honestly thought would never come.” He also told United Press International that “I feel like we’ve been in line for 17 years.”
The Vermont state legislature overrode Governor Jim Douglas’ veto of the same-sex marriage bill by a 100 to 49 vote in the state House and 23 to 5 vote in the state Senate in April.
Vermont became the first state to give civil recognition to gay and lesbian couples with the passage of legislation that established civil unions in the state in 2000. At the time, this law granted same-sex partners the most comprehensive system of domestic partner benefits in the nation, qualifying them for the some 300 rights and benefits available to married couples in the state. Vermont is now one of four states where same sex marriage licenses are being granted. The other states are Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa. Legislation granting same sex marriage rights has also passed in Maine and New Hampshire. Maine’s legislation is facing challenges and New Hampshire’s will go into effect in January. Similar legislation is currently under consideration in New York.