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Same Sex Marriage hearing follow-up

Now that I’ve had time to process the same-sex marriage discussion in Brattleboro, I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share.  There is no wisdom or special insight in this article, just a few thoughts that seem to me to be the right thing to say.

First, to get the political thing out of the way: I’m still pissed off at Governor Douglas for saying that same-sex marriage is “divisive” while, at the same time, using the issue to fundraise.

That said, I want to talk about the hearing itself.  I don’t think anyone went into that hearing expecting to change their mind, and I doubt anyone did change their mind.  What happened, however, at least from my point of view, was transformational in a very different fashion.People who had supported civil unions at the time now feel as though they’re inadequate and now think that they’re helping to perpetuate an unjust system.  People who had been willing to accept civil unions as an incremental step have simply moved beyond that and if that room was any indication, we’ve got the real energy to say “this is absurd.”  The people who support full legal rights for same sex couples were so vibrant and clear last night.  The people who oppose them?  They didn’t show.  Not a one.

So we had dozens of speakers, one after another, saying why civil unions aren’t enough and why marriage rights are so necessary.  And no, my mind was not changed– I agreed with every one of them.

But I was really moved by this, in a major way.  The stories were so personal and I’ve heard so many of these stories that I really thought I was beyond being moved by them.

I’m not.

I listened to people talk about history, about love, about commitment, about their children, about their parents, about their spouses and their ex-spouses and everyone in that room was just such an important part of that.

Something changed for me last night.  I’m not sure what it was, but for the first time, I think, I see same-sex marriage as inevitable.  Not “likely in the next 20 years,” not “possible in the next decade.”  


And it’s really simple why: it’s true.  it’s real.  There was a time when I thought the law was a way to propel society forward, that having same sex marriage will make people recognize it.  That may still be true, but now it’s the law that’s behind the people.  Same-sex marriage is real and it’s happening today and it’s the law that needs to catch up with it.

We, in Vermont, are better than to have second class citizens.  A law which specifically and intentionally carves out a place for some of us to be second class diminishes all of us.  Laws which are designed to “protect’ marriage are laws based in fear and they, instead, demean marriage, making it seem to be something weak, brittle and frail.

Laws which treat Vermonters as though we need to be protected from same-sex marriage, as though it is a threat to us?  These are laws that should embarrass us all.  

We are better than this.

We are stronger than this.

And when same-sex marriage finally does come to the state of Vermont, just as will happen when it comes to the United States as a whole, the reaction will not be one of shock or dismay.  It will, quite frankly, be five short words:

What took you so long?

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