Equal Marriage Rights Win in Vermont

The Vermont legislature today voted to override the governor’s veto of a marriage equality bill that had passed last week. The law permits same-sex couples to marry, and recognizes such marriages performed in other states. Vermont now becomes the fourth state to recognize same-sex marriage, and the first to have done so by direct legislative initiative rather than a court decision. Thanks are due to Vermont Freedom to Marry, MassEquality, and all the other activists and volunteers who contacted their elected officials to speak up for equality. From the Vermont Freedom to Marry e-newsletter:

This is a proud day for Vermont and Vermonters. Throughout this three and a half week process, we have engaged with one another with as much civility and respect as possible given the intensity of the heartfelt views many of us — across the spectrum — brought into this debate. And in the end, we did the right thing. The forces of justice, fairness and love proved far stronger than one man’s veto pen.

And along the way, we built new bridges. The debate galvanized the majority of Vermonters in the quest for fairness and inclusion, uniting the business community, clergy and ordinary folks from the four corners of our state. In our editorial pages we’ve seen compelling calls for justice, personal stories, and thoughtful analysis. And in communities around the state, thousands of Vermonters stepped up to the plate — writing your legislators, coming to the Statehouse, knocking on doors, and making phone calls. Some of you have never engaged in the political process before, and some hadn’t thought much about the freedom to marry until it hit the front page. But you opened your hearts, heard a better future calling, and dedicated yourself to making our world a more loving place.

And the courage of every single legislator, and the commitment of every single volunteer and donor, has made a difference. We made it over the top without a cushion. Every single one of us has truly mattered.

Your actions matter to Sandi and Bobbi, who can finally get married right here in their own home state after 42 years of committed life together — through life-threatening sickness, job loss, and the challenges of parenting, as well as the joys of raising a child, being grandmothers, and sharing each other’s company.

Your actions matter to Nina and Stacy who have spent a dozen years advocating for children of gay and lesbian parents — including their own. It matters to their son, Seth, who deserves to grow up in a world that recognizes, respects, and protects his family as much as any other.

Your actions matter to Scott, who as an adolescent struggling with his sexuality regularly contemplated suicide because he felt less worthy than his heterosexual siblings. And to the next generation of Scotts whose load will be lighter in a world where our laws don’t reinforce outdated social stigmas.
Your actions matter to kids that haven’t yet been born, youngsters who don’t yet realize how we made a better world for them, and soulmates yet-to-be-joined by fate or good fortune.

Vermont can serve as a beacon of hope to the kid on the playground in Indiana, bullied by his peers because he’s not macho enough. To the lesbian mother in Georgia in fear of losing custody of her child because she’s gay. And to the worker in Montana who is afraid to come out to his boss for fear of losing his job.

To all of you — thank you for making this difference!

Meanwhile, a gay-marriage bill has passed the New Hampshire House and is awaiting action in the Senate, and similar bills are pending in Maine and New Jersey. Also today, the Washington, D.C. city council voted to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed legally in other states. Washington, D.C. already has a civil-unions law and is considering a move to full marriage equality, which will need approval from Congress.

To volunteer for phone-banks targeting these states, contact MassEquality.