Monday, March 30, 2009

Take It to The People favors advisory referendum on whether Vermont should recognize same-sex marriages

Take It To The People advertises itself as a "grassroots coalition" whose president is Reverend Craig Benson. It opposed Vermont's civil unions law in 2000, and is circulating a petition "to authorize an advisory referendum on the question, 'Shall the voters advise the General Assembly to adopt legislation confirming marriage as being solely between one man and one woman?'"

The organization can not overcome obstacles to securing a popular vote on a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Before a proposed constitutional amendment can reach the Vermont electorate, the state Constitution (Ch. II, Sec. 72) requires, among other conditions, that the state legislature pass it in two successive sessions. It also requires that, in the first of the two sessions, the state Senate pass the proposed amendment by a two-thirds majority. A constitutional "marriage protection amendment" (MPA) has no better chance of satisfying a two-thirds-majority requirement than it did in 2000, when the best opportunity to advance an MPA through the state Senate failed. So Take It To The People can do no more to oppose same-sex marriage in Vermont than promote the idea of an advisory referendum. And that undertaking appears equally unpromising.

03/29/09 Burlington Free Press editorial:

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 16th, Vermont University Law Professors Peter Teachout said that an advisory referendum was "not a bad idea," but was not necessary, because Vermonters have other, more effective means of holding legislators accountable.

Editors of the Burlington Free Press agree that Vermont is "is small enough and our elected representatives accessible enough that most people have little trouble getting their message across." They add that a "move to put the issue to a public vote was defeated in the Senate. It could come up again as the House considers the measure. But an injustice is no less a travesty of our democratic principles for having the backing of the majority."

No comments:

Commentators, Subjects and Cases