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Vermont, which invented civil unions, on Tuesday became a pioneer again as the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislature's vote, suggesting growing popular acceptance of the idea. - The House barely achieved the votes necessary to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill that will allow gays and lesbians to marry beginning September 1. Four states now have same-sex marriage laws and other states soon could follow suit.
Bills to allow same-sex marriage are currently before lawmakers in New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey. The three other states that currently allow same-sex marriage _ Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa _ each moved to do so through the courts, not legislatures.
"For a popularly elected legislature to make this decision is a much more democratic process" because lawmakers have to answer to the voters every other November, said Eric Davis, a retired Middlebury College political science professor.