[JURIST] The Vermont State Senate [official website] voted 26-4 Monday to approve [Senate journal, PDF] same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] in the state. This was the second of three readings of the proposed bill [S.0115 text, PDF], entitled “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage." Senator Kevin Mullin (R) brought an alternative motion for an advisory referendum to take place in the March 2010 elections asking the general public whether "the General Assembly [shall] amend the laws of the state to allow couples of the same sex to marry?" before taking legislative action. Mullin’s motion was not sustained and the proposed bill is now due for a third reading [Senate calendar; PDF] on Tuesday, after which it is expected to pass in the Senate and be introduced to the House of Representatives. Earlier this month, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas (R) [official profile] said that he opposes [AP report] legalizing same-sex marriage, but it is unclear whether he would veto the bill.
The Vermont Senate began hearings [JURIST report] on the bill last week. If the proposed legislation passes, Vermont would join Massachusetts [JURIST news archive] and Connecticut [JURIST report] in extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. In California, the state Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive] earlier this month, and a ruling is expected by early May. The passage of Proposition 8 last November amended the California constitution to define marriage to be between a man and a woman, overturning a ruling [JURIST reports] by the California Supreme Court which permitted the marriage of same-sex couple.