Douglas plays the dunce

DOUGLAS PLAYS THE DUNCE…. I don’t get to talk much about my adopted home state, but Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas’ (R) misguided announcement yesterday warrants all kinds of attention.

Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont said Wednesday that he would veto a same-sex marriage bill if it reached his desk, setting a new hurdle for a measure that had been moving swiftly through the legislature.

But Mr. Douglas, a Republican, also said that “legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they did not have the votes to override a veto.”

The issue of marriage equality, the governor said, “diverts attention from our most pressing issues,” which is why he announced his intention to veto the bill.

The argument doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny. Douglas tends to avoid blatant bigotry and culture-war crusades — he is, after all, the Republican governor of one of the nation’s “bluest” states — so he can’t very well reject the pending legislation on homophobic grounds. But the “distraction” argument is a cheap cop-out — the sooner this common-sense legislation becomes law, the sooner it moves off the Vermont political world’s radar.

By announcing his intention to veto, Douglas puts the issue of two consenting adults getting married at the forefront of the state’s political debate. By daring state lawmakers to override his veto, the governor is prolonging the process. If the goal were to end the “distraction,” Douglas would be moving in the opposite direction.

For what it’s worth, the veto override remains a real possibility. The marriage bill passed the state Senate 26 to 4. It will pass the state House fairly soon, but the margin remains unclear.

I’ll let you know what happens.