Vermont Freedom to Marry honors the life and work of former state representative Marion Milne, who passed away on Monday at the age of 79.
Marion Milne served as a Republican in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1994 to 2000. In 2000, after the Vermont Supreme Court Baker v. Vermont decision put the question of rights and benefits for same-sex couples before the Legislature, Representative Milne became a crucial supporter of the civil unions bill, voting her conscience despite heavy opposition from many of her constituents. Because of that brave vote of conscience, Milne was defeated by an anti-gay candidate in the next primary and lost her seat in the House.
In the House debate around the civil unions vote, Milne spoke of the potential cost of her vote: “Depending on how we vote, this decision may cost some of us our political careers. If I am measured only by this one vote in my entire political life, I have served my constituents well by voting for this bill. I will not be silenced by hatred and intolerance.”
In a 2009 interview in Clockworks, Goddard College’s alumni magazine, Milne reflected on her legislative votes, saying she tried to do what was right for her grandchildren: “Quite often, if there was some issue that was troubling me, I tried to think about what was best for these kids in the future, and that helped me alot.”
In another 2009 interview Milne spoke directly about her vote in favor of civil unions to reporter John Curran, saying she had no regrets: "I spent many long hours on a snowy night at the hearing and I listened to everything that came before us. It was somewhere in there that I realize this was a civil right, and I supported it. ... The sky hasn't fallen in or anything. I did what I thought was right.”
When the Vermont House overrode the governor’s veto of the marriage-equality bill in 2009, Milne expressed her support: "I was thrilled and I think it's a civil rights issue and the state of Vermont has done a wonderful thing today and I'm very happy."
Though Milne didn’t return to politics after her defeat, she continued to help run Milne Travel, the business she founded in 1975, and served on numerous boards and commissions dealing with civil rights, women’s, and elder issues.
Speaking yesterday to Vermont Public Radio about her loss, Former Shelburne Representative Tom Little, an architect of the civil unions bill, said, “She is one of the people who helped bring Vermont forward.”
Click here for the full VPR remembrance: http://digital.vpr.net/post/former-rep-marion-milne-dies
Vermont Freedom to Marry joins with all those who mourn the loss of this courageous leader. We’re thankful for Marion Milne’s many years of helping bring Vermont and Vermonters forward and send our sincere condolences to the Milne family.
Marion Milne’s life will be celebrated on Friday, August 15, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. in the First Presbyterian Church of Barre. Memorial contributions may be made to the Calef Memorial Library, c/o the Keith Milne Fund, P.O. Box 141, Washington, VT 05675.