The New England state, which in 2000 became the first in the country to adopt civil unions for gay couples, came to the decision today when the Vermont Legislature successfully overrode Governor Jim Douglas's veto of a bill allowing gay couples to marry.
In order to override the governor's veto, the house needed a two-thirds vote. Last week, they came up four votes shy. But today, they managed to achieve the exact number required when several house members who voted against the override last week switched sides to support it. The final vote was 100 to 49.
With this decision, Vermont becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislative action, rather than a court ruling, and the fourth state overall to legalize same-sex marriages. The other states, in addition to Iowa, are Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Providing gay rights proponents with even more reason to celebrate, the D.C. Council voted today to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states, a measure that New York has already adopted.
Additional gay rights rulings may soon be coming, as New Hampshire has already approved gay marriage in the House (and now just awaits action in the Senate), while Maine and New Jersey are currently in the midst of debating same-sex marriage legislation.
But while these measures are surely historic, and certainly momentum-building, gay rights proponents still face many more hurdles, including 29 states with constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and the1996 federal "Defense of Marriage Act" which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.