Monday, March 16, 2009

Vermont to consider same-sex marriage this week

It looks like the "Green Mountain State" of Vermont will be the next in the union to consider legalizing same-sex marriage.

According to the Associated Press, legislators began a week of hearings today to discuss S. 115: An Act Relating to Civil Marriage, which would neuter marriage while moving the state's civil unions to same-sex marriage:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are starting a week of hearings on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to adopt civil unions. House and Senate leaders want to pass the gay marriage bill this legislative session, which ends in May.

Supporters say gay marriage would give couples additional rights related to insurance, health care and Social Security benefits.

Hundreds of gay marriage opponents are lobbying at the Vermont Statehouse. They say the bill would undermine the institution of marriage and harm children.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the bill. More hearings are scheduled for later in the week.

If passed, same-sex couples could wed beginning Sept. 1, 2009. All legal references to marital or familial relationships in Vermont would be gender neutral as the legal definition moves from one man and one woman to any two people, stripping away all references to "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," etc.

On the upside, the bill codifies clergy's right to refuse to solemnize the marriage, "if to do so would violate the clergyperson’s right to religious liberty protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Chapter I, Article 3 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont." Hence why the bill can also be called "An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage." I guess that's a good thing... but it's still a definite step in the wrong direction.

If you're a Vermonter who opposes this, make your voice heard! Don't let your representatives make this important decision for you.

1. Call, e-mail, or write the legislators at the Vermont State House and tell them "No" to gay marriage. And contact Governor Jim Douglas and encourage him to not sign a gay marriage bill if it passes and comes to his desk.

2. Support pro-family organizations such as Vermont Renewal/Vermont Marriage Advisory Council, Let Vermont Vote and Take It to the People in their efforts to stop this legislation.

There's also a Facebook group for the cause - visit Defend the Natural Family: Stop Gay Marriage in Vermont! for more info.