Guest Blogger

Vermont Rules!

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 08, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, LGBT, marriage, Vermont

Editors' note: Marc Solomon is the new marriage director for Equality California, leading the organization's efforts to win marriage back in the Golden State. He recently served as the executive director of Mass Equality, where he successfully helped protect marriage equality in Massachusetts and worked for equality throughout New England.

Like marc at rally again.jpgclockwork, I woke up at 6 AM Pacific time, knowing the Vermont legislature would soon be voting to override Governor Jim Douglas's veto of the marriage equality bill. I turned on my computer, went to the Burlington Free Press website, and was glued to it since then. After the first vote--the Senate veto override vote--I left a message for Peter Shumlin, the President of the Vermont Senate who has become a good friend and tremendous ally over the past two years.

For the last year-plus, MassEquality--the organization I just left--has been working extremely closely with the other New England states to win full marriage equality. Last year, much of the focus was on protecting the court win in Connecticut. Since mid-2008, in partnership with the amazing leaders at Vermont Freedom to Marry (it is truly an amazing organization), I've worked very hard towards this day. Days of meetings in Vermont, meetings and conference calls with Senate President Peter Shumlin and the past and present House speakers, phone banks and volunteer canvasses into Vermont, and for the past couple of months, almost daily check-ins.

While Vermont is a small state, the symbolism of the first state with civil unions saying, very clearly, that CU is not good enough, that only marriage is... is huge.

We knew there was a chance, but never expected, Governor Douglas to veto the bill. We thought he'd allow it to become law without his signature (which you can do in Vermont). And we also thought that we would be in grave trouble if he did veto the bill.

But today, Vermont proved, once again, what we all know--that marriage equality makes a tremendous difference for gay and lesbian couples and families, and those who love and care about them. And for the rest of society, it's not a big deal. In fact, I am positive if you were to poll Vermonters today, a strong majority would say they are proud to be the first state to have passed marriage through their legislature and enacted into law.

For us in California, this shows that anything short of marriage--whether it is called civil unions, domestic partnerships or anything else --doesn't suffice. Full equality is marriage, plain and simple. The people of Vermont, acting through their elected officials--more than two-thirds of them--get it. It's our job to make sure that a majority of the people of California get it too! It will happen here, sooner rather than later. We just have a lot of hard work to do making that case to a majority of Californians.

Iowa, Vermont--what a week! Now on to New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey! And of course, our own state of California.

Let Freedom Ring!

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...and we didn't even get the "I would prefer civil unions" speech from our President after Vermont which relieved me.

Yeah, that would be a rather ironic reaction in this situation.