TWO is teaming up with the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, the nonprofit, now-all-volunteer organization that spearheaded the successful effort to pass civil unions and full marriage equality in our home state of Vermont and now advocates for federal equality and serves as a resource for married same-sex couples navigating the complicated, expensive issues caused by federal non-recognition of their state-recognized marriages.
We’re launching a collaborative campaign calling on all eight of Vermont’s mayors to stand up for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender constituents by signing the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Statement. Constituents are hand-delivering and mailing letters to the mayors of Barre, Burlington, Montpelier, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans, Vergennes, and Winooski urging them to add their names to the list of signatories, which currently numbers more than 150.
The statement, released last month by the national organization Freedom to Marry, is a public declaration of support for full federal civil marriage equality. Signers represent a broad-based coalition of mayors from cities and towns across America — large and small, from red and blue states alike — who pledge to work “to build an America where all people can share in the love and commitment of marriage.” However, at the time the statement was released, not one Vermont mayor had signed.
With the passage of the country’s first civil union law in 2000, Vermont became the first state in the nation to grant marriage-like rights to LGBT Vermonters in committed same-sex partnerships. In 2009, Vermont again made history as the first state to achieve full marriage equality through the legislative process instead of the courts, even overriding a gubernatorial veto to do so. Given that longstanding tradition of leadership on LGBT issues, TWO and VFM were surprised by Vermont’s lack of representation on the Mayors for Freedom to Marry Statement and decided to invite our state’s mayors to continue Vermont’s tradition of leadership by signing on.
I delivered the VFM/TWO letter to the office of Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss last Tuesday and he signed the statement that same day. His immediate and positive response was thrilling, and we hope Vermont’s other mayors follow his example.
Perhaps some of you, dear readers, can take this campaign to the mayors of your own cities and towns if they haven’t already joined the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Just don’t forget to let us know how they respond!