[JURIST] The Vermont House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday passed a bill [S-115, PDF] approving same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The bill, aimed at "promot[ing] legal equality in the civil marriage laws and ... protect[ing] the religious freedom of clergy and religious societies authorized to solemnize civil marriages," was approved by a margin of 95-52 [roll call vote], which falls short of the two-thirds majority needed to override an expected veto [JURIST report] from Governor Jim Douglas (R) [official website]. According to Vermont Freedom to Marry [advocacy website], the approval followed a five hour debate [text] in front of numerous supporters. The bill must be voted on again [AP report] by the House for final approval, but is expected to pass.
The Vermont State Senate approved the bill [JURIST report] last week by a vote of 26-4. If the proposed legislation passes, Vermont would join Massachusetts [JURIST news archive] and Connecticut [JURIST report] in extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. Previously, Vermont became the first state to offer civil unions to same-sex couples when then-Governor Howard Dean signed H.B.847 [text] into law in April 2000.
4:50 PM ET: The Vermont House has given final approval to the bill in 94-52 roll call vote.