Tomorrow, September 1, the state of Vermont will celebrate its three-year equality anniversary.
Vermont has long shown a strong commitment to protecting and upholding the rights of LGBT people, and the state has been a national leader in the crucial area of relationship recognition. With the passage of the country’s first civil union law in 2000 — an extremely hard-fought and bitter battle that nearly tore the state apart — 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 then-Governor Jim Douglas’s veto to do so. The law went into effect at midnight on September 1, 2009; marriages began immediately and have continued, unimpeded, ever since.
Three years after the freedom-to-marry battle was finally won in Vermont, married same-sex couples are an integral part of the fabric of the state and Vermont is stronger for it. America can learn much from Vermont’s experience, because it shows that marriage equality is the right thing to do across the country, and our journey proves that it can and should be done – society is stronger and better when all loving, committed couples and families are recognized and affirmed.
I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again now, and I’ll say it over and over for the rest of my life: to Vermont Freedom to Marry (the statewide organization that spearheaded the civil union and marriage equality efforts) and all those brave Vermonters who worked so hard, gave their all, and in many cases, suffered so much in order to give LGBT people and same-sex couples in this state the simple, yet profound dignity of marriage equality — thank you. My husband and I will never be able to fully repay the debt we owe you, but we will work together with you to bring marriage equality all across the rest of this country, from sea to shining sea.
Check out the video below from Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights — it’s a great summary of the battle for marriage equality in Vermont, the demonstrably positive impact it’s had on our state’s economy, and the strong level of public support that Vermont’s marriage equality law enjoys.