Bookmark and Share
Subscribe to our RSS feed
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us:
Myspace
Join our Facebook Group
Friend us:
VT HOUSE S.115 As Enacted: Read the new law!

Helpful Marriage Equality Resources

Downloadable Documents and Handouts

Pdf_logo The following documents are available in pdf format. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have this program installed, you can download it for free here.

  • Joint Statement by VT's Leading Mental Health and Health Care Professionals:  joint statement affirming that research has shown that children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.
  • Read H.178 - An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage.
  • 7 Stories - 7 Reasons: Two-sided brochure featuring seven stories of real Vermonters highlighting the ways civil unions fall short.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Marriage Equality Bill: Download the FAQ to help answer common questions you may have about the bill or that others may ask you as an advocate for marriage equality.
  • Marriage Resolution: Ask your supportive family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to sign the Marriage Resolution to demonstrate their support for marriage equality.  Provide supporters the opportunity to sign the Marriage Resolution at potlucks, holiday parties, local gatherings and/or within your congregation.  Return completed forms to the address listed at the bottom of the Marriage Resolution.
  • Declaration Sign-Up Form: Ask your supportive clergy member or lay leader to sign the Declaration of Religious Support for Same-gender Couples to Marry.  The supportive voice of clergy is extremely important and you may know a clergy person who has not signed yet. Once you return the complete sign-up sheet, we will add their name to the list of signers by denomination. The Declaration will be distributed in communities throughout Vermont.
  • Vermont Parents Statement of Support: If you are a Vermont parent or grandparent, please sign the statement of support to demonstrate that marriage equality is a family value.
  • Freedom of Religion and Civil Marriage: This document provides information about the difference between religious marriage and civil marriage and highlights the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion. It's a helpful handout that you can download for community events, to provide your church or synagogue or for you own use to help you educate others.
  • Arguments Against Interracial Marriage and Marriage Equality: This document draws on specific examples to demonstrate the striking similarity between the arguments of those who opposed allowing interracial marriage in the mid-20th century and the arguments raised by opponents of legal marriage for same-sex couples today.

[back to the top]

Resources for Parents

Organizations

Journals and Reports

[back to the top]

060506gaymarriage200oy5_2 Civil Unions

In 2000, Vermont was the first state in the country to pass a civil union law. That law created a new legal status for same-sex couples, and provided important legal protections to those couples. 

Although civil unions were a great step forward, they’re no substitute for full and genuine inclusion in civil marriage.  To learn more about the legal significance of civil unions, or how to join in civil union in Vermont, visit the Vermont Secretary of State’s Official Vermont Guide to Civil Unions.

[back to the top]

A Brief History of Vermont's Freedom to Marry Movement

Inspired by the early successes of Hawaii's push for the freedom to marry in the early 90's, a small group of committed Vermonters formed the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force to educate our fellow Vermonters about the issues surrounding the freedom to marry, and to advocate for full inclusion of same-sex couples in Vermont's marriage laws.

In 1997, three Vermont same-sex couples sought marriage licenses from their town clerks. When the clerks refused, the couples sued the State of Vermont for unconstitutionally denying them the right to marry. In December, 1999 the Vermont Supreme Court handed down its decision in that case, known as Baker v. Vermont.

The Baker decision was both groundbreaking and disappointing. The Court recognized that Vermont's marriage laws unconstitutionally denied same-sex couples a host of important legal protections and obligations that come with civil marriage; however, the Court stopped short of deciding whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to be legally married, and did not order the State of Vermont to issue marriage licenses to the plaintiffs. Instead, the Court deferred to the Vermont Legislature to take action to extend the legal protections and obligations of civil marriage to same-sex couples.

VFMTF urged the Legislature to do the simplest, fairest thing and simply amend Vermont's marriage laws to include same-sex couples. After weeks of intensive deliberation, the Legislature decided not to move to full equality for same-sex couples in one step, but instead, to pass a civil union law that created a new and separate family status for same-sex couples. Once the marriage option was definitively off the table, VFMTF ultimately chose to support the civil union law as a step toward full equality. We made it clear at the time that this compromise measure did not satisfy our moral and constitutional claim to full inclusion, but we believed that once Vermonters saw that recognizing and protecting same-sex couples made some families more secure and harmed nobody, they would readily embrace full equality by including same-sex couples in marriage.

Even this more modest step was extremely controversial at the time; as of 2000, no state had passed laws protecting same-sex couples that were nearly as comprehensive as Vermont's civil union law. The bill passed by a narrow margin. 

[back to the top]

Changing Times

Vermont's passage of a civil union law did not end VFMTF's work. After several years focused on protecting the civil union law and promoting broader acceptance of that law in Vermont, VFMTF turned its attention back to our primary mission: the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Vermont.

The good news is that times have changed dramatically since the difficult debate in 2000 regarding the civil union law. Our neighbors to the south in Massachusetts, and our neighbors to the north in Canada, have joined countries around the world in allowing same-sex couples to marry. The conversation about the freedom to marry has reached every state in the country, and Vermont, with our first-step civil union law, is no longer leading this national civil rights struggle.

Here in Vermont, attitudes toward the freedom to marry have changed. In November, 2004, the Associated Press reported that its Vermont exit polls found that 40% of Vermonters believed that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, 37% didn't support the right to marry for same-sex couples, but did support our civil union law, and only 20% opposed both.

The days when the civil union law represented the best same-sex couples could attain in Vermont have passed. Vermonters are ready to finish the job, and embrace the freedom to marry. It's fair. It's just. And it's time.

[back to the top]