If you attended the press conference in the ENTHUSIASTICALLY PACKED State House Cedar Creek room a week ago Friday, you also saw Euan Bear unfurl a banner.
The banner asks a simple question: If civil unions are the same as marriage, want to trade?
To me the banner is really asking: “why does the State of Vermont – or any state – force upon a couple, a union, a marriage, this legal distinction?”
More over the bump . . .
The real issue, of course, is not about anyone “trading” their State-created legal couple status, whatever that status might be.
The point is no Vermonter should be forced to think about “trading-up” for a status that the State already gives away to most of its citizens. This is a pure civil rights matter, and it is our General Assembly's responsibility to fix. And it is our responsibility to stand with our General Assembly to see it fixed.
This is about fairness, this is about equality. Because some of us have heterosexual marriages, the government chooses to give us one set of rights and recognition relative to our families' State-sanctioned legal protections. The State's role is not to play favorites, the State's role is to play fair.
For many of our friends, relatives, neighbors and many others in our community, Vermont government ignores their right to a marriage. Relative to state-created family and state-sanctioned marital protections, Vermont government forces upon members of our democratic community a lesser legal status if they are not heterosexuals.
Why the difference between two communities in our one State? Or, why does Vermont choose to continue imposing two sets of rights for one community of citizens? The lack of equal treatment exists because some of us were NOT born homosexual; and the treatment occurs because some of us were NOT born heterosexual. That is not a way to make public policy; it is only a recipe for community division.
So here is the practical issue. We are now at the point – finally – where State recognition of THE RIGHT to marriage, which same gender couples inherently have, is within reach. It is a relatively simple act from a legislative perspective. The bill pending in the General Assembly is only a few sentences long (H.178).
The equal marriage rights bill is simple. At its statutory core, what this law will do is recognize the right to marry by changing JUST.4.WORDS.
JUST(ice) = 4 Words
I'll say it again, the bill TAKES FOUR (4) WORDS OUT of the Vermont code.
Where the law currently reads:
. . . the town clerk shall issue the marriage license “in the town where either the bride or groom resides . . . “
H.178 changes the language so the law will now state:
. . . the town clerk shall issue the marriage license “in the town where either party resides. . .”
See the difference? Four words.
That's the scoop. Just four words. JUST[ice] 4 WORDS.
History already left the station on this issue. Vermont maybe leading much of the country. However, it is still playing catch-up respecting the rights of all Vermonters who want a marriage.
It's about time. It's past time. Don't let the forces of fear, hate, division and prejudice stop the righting of this wrong.
JUSTice 4 WORDS
Don't fall for the distractions. The Governor is trying to distract you. The anti-marriage collective is having the vapors in front of you. The harp-along conservative dittoheads are clutching their pearls and fretting over how “complicated” an issue this is. They are all bearing false witness about how “time consuming” or “distracting from the important work of the legislature” this will be. They shiver and stutter about how difficult civil rights issues are for the General Assembly. Excuse me. My representatives can vote and chew gum at the same time.
This will only become time consuming and this will only be complicated if conservatives and the anti-marriage forces drag it out. There is nothing to drag out.
The time is now. The work is done. Vote!
JUST 4 Words.