The “Only One Vote” Talking Point

Yesterday, I wondered how the Right would respond to the Vermont marriage veto override vote now that their standard talking points “activist judges” wouldn’t work and noted that their new tactic seemed to be to try and lessen its legitimacy by suggesting that that it had passed by “only one vote.”

It was a point that the National Organization for Marriage made in its press release and repeated again in this column from NOM President Maggie Gallagher.  And now it is likewise being echoed by Mike Huckabee:

Today the Vermont legislature attacked traditional marriage by voting (by only one vote) to override Governor Douglas’ veto.  Vermont becomes the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage.  The other three states, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa did so by judicial rulings.  Now the Vermont legislature has joined in the assault on the most critical foundation in our society – the American family.

Governor Douglas, when he vetoed the original legislation on Monday, said “I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.”    I agree with Governor Douglas.  We must not continue to undermine the traditional American family.  Once again, the right to decide an issue of such importance has been taken out of the hands of the voter.

The actions of the Vermont Legislature, coming on the heels of the judicial ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, should make it apparent to each of us that conservative values and conservative principles are under attack as never before.  We must take action now.

It is up to each of us who believe in traditional marriage to increase our efforts to protect the foundation of our society.  I continue to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  It is now an absolute necessity.  We must stop the liberal legislatures and activist judges from undermining the moral fabric of our society.  Fighting for passage of a constitutional amendment is critical to conservative principles.

Join me in waging the battle for the protection of the family – help rally support for a constitutional amendment.

I realize that they are struggling to figure out how to address this significant development to which their standard responses no longer apply, but the idea that marriage equality was enacted in Vermont by “only one vote” is absurd.

When the Vermont Legislature passed the bill, the votes were 26-4 in the Senate and 95-52 in the House.  By my count, that means the vote was 121-56, a 65 vote margin in favor of marriage equality.  

After Republican Governor Jim Douglas vetoed it, it meant the legislature needed the votes of two-thirds of the members present to override it, which they then did yesterday by votes of 23-5 in the Senate and 100-49 in the House, giving it a vote total of 123-54, a 69 vote margin in favor of equality.  

In both cases, the votes in favor of marriage equality outnumbered the votes against by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

By its nature, the veto override vote required the support of two-thirds of the legislators in both houses, and that is what it received.

But those who militantly oppose marriage equality seem intent on dismissing the overwhelming votes in favor of granting equality to gay couples in Vermont by claiming that it was enacted by “only one vote.”