Guest Blogger

Building a more tolerant & inclusive climate

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 28, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: building tolerance, inclusive climate, Peter Shumlin, same-sex marriage, Vermont

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Peter Shumlin, the Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore. Senator Shumlin is currently running for Governor of Vermont and has been an incredible force in the fight for marriage equality.

peter-shumlin.jpgThe struggle for equal rights for gay and lesbian people is ongoing and I am in it for the distance. I am a proud Vermonter and I have never been prouder of our state than when the legislature voted on April 7th, 2009 to overturn Governor Douglas's veto of the marriage equality bill.

As Senate President Pro Tempore, I, along with Speaker Shap Smith, led the legislature in this historic vote. Passage of the marriage equality bill made Vermont the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage by legislative action, not by a court order. This momentous vote marked almost twenty years since a governor's veto has been overridden.

There is no question that in the fight for equal rights that leadership matters. I have been that leader and I am eager to lead as the next Governor of Vermont.

I have been deeply saddened and troubled by the recent suicides of young gay men across the country. Furthermore, the surge in barbaric violence against gay and lesbian people angers me.

Unfortunately, changing laws is not enough to ensure equal rights and protection for gay and lesbian people. We must also change the hearts and minds of people. This type of momentous change takes leadership from the top.

As Governor, I will work tirelessly to provide protection under the laws and be a vocal, visible and unrelenting voice for the need for understanding and tolerance for everyone, regardless of his/her sexual orientation.

Equal rights for gay and lesbian people is the central civil rights movement of this generation. It is a path that will lead us to creating a more inclusive and just nation. As Governor of Vermont I will work to ensure all states deliver same sex marriage; take a stand on the national level in opposing DOMA; and build a more tolerant and inclusive climate for every Vermonter.

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You say "Gay and Lesbian", but what about equal rights for the rest of the LGBTI community? Are we likely to see any Gender-Identity specific legislation if you become Governor?

Also there hasn't been any inclusion of Gender-identity within many of the federal campaigns over the last few years, such as DADT, while in others such as ENDA, there is talk that Gender-Identity maybe dropped yet again. Given that Transgender and Intersex indivduals are banned by military medical policy, rather than congressionally-passed laws, would you be willing to use your power as Governor to allow Transgender and Intersex individuals to serve in the Vermont National Guard? On the same token, would you also extend Employment Non-discrimination Laws in Vermont to cover Transgender indivduals?