December 23, 2007

Vermont continues to make strides toward full inclusion in marriage!


Vermont Commission Mulling Gay Marriage Nears End

(Montpelier, Vermont) A state appointed commission looking into Vermont's civil unions law and tasked with determining if it should be amended to provide for same-sex marriage is nearing its completion.

The commission has just three more public hearings - scheduled to end in mid February - before it begins to prepare its report to the legislature.

The Commission on Family Recognition and Protection this week held hearings in Montpelier and was told that while the state's civil union law - the first of its kind in the nation - was a step forward same-sex couples still are not equal.

It was the first time the traveling commission heard deputations in the state's capital city and the session was a far cry from hearings that were conducted seven years ago when the state was considering the civil unions bill.

Then, dozens of people from conservative groups opposed to the bill denounced the measure and protestors carried signs outside.

This time there were no voices of dissent.

"Separate but equal did not work as a compromise in the civil rights movement and it doesn't work here," Elaine Parker told the commission.

Justice of the Peace Beth Diamond said recalled that she had been excited to perform her first civil union and then realized it was no different than performing a civil marriage.

"I had two people before me who loved each other very much," she said. "And I was lucky enough to have the honor to be officiating at their ceremony."

Robert Appel, the executive director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, disputed claims from some opponents of same-sex marriage that they would harm traditional marriages.
"Civil unions have not weakened our communities," he said. "If anything, they have enhanced them."

The citizens commission was appointed in July by the leaders of Vermont's House and Senate - both Democrats (story).

It is chaired by former state Rep. Tom Little (D). Little. When he was a member of the legislature Little was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, when it passed the law legalizing civil unions in 2000.

The committee will present its report to the legislature in the spring, but nothing is expected to be done about it until after next year's election. That would mean there is no likelihood of a bill before 2009.

Exciting news for folks like me who still hope that we will see gay marriage codified in the United States in our lifetime!

1 comment:

  1. VT Continues to Court Equality

    Vermont citizens deserve marriage equality. Massachusetts has shown after 3 1/2 years that no disasters befall a state that values all of its citizens' rights. Take a look at our book Courting Equality or our website to see the faces of equality. Vermont led the way and for that we are grateful!