(MONTPELIER, VERMONT, December 20, 1999)

The Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force commended today's Vermont Supreme Court ruling which affirms the constitutional right of all Vermonters to the benefits and responsibilities of marriage. Task Force volunteer Sandi Cote described the decision as a matter of basic fairness: "My partner, Bobbi, and I have shared a home, a family, a deep love, and a powerful commitment to one another for over 32 years. We're gratified that the Supreme Court has recognized a long-standing imbalance of equality."

The effect of the Court's decision has been suspended to permit the Legislature to consider and enact legislation consistent with the newly created constitutional mandate. Attorney Deborah Lashman, also a Task Force volunteer, looks to the legislature for quick and simple response. "My partner and I have raised our sons together from birth. We're thrilled that the Court has removed the stigma of second-class citizenship on our family. The only logical route for the legislature from here is to do the same. Anything short of marriage domestic partnership laws, for example evokes the old idea of separate but equal, which history shows is anything but equal."

Referring to Vermont's distinction as the first state to prohibit slavery in 1777, Task Force volunteer Chris Tebbetts noted: "Once again Vermont affirms that all citizens are entitled to equality under the law."

The Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force is an association of individuals and organizations committed to public education about same-sex couples and the families they form. Cote explains, "Our job has not ended with this decision. We must be there to address the misunderstandings and confront the ingrained intolerance. The Supreme Court has done the right thing. Now we want to see the legislature do the same."

For further information, contact Deborah Lashman at 802-864-3120(w); or Chris Tebbetts at 802-864-9337.