ACLU Commends Vermont Legislature's Adoption of a "Civil Union" Statute for Same-Gender Couples

Affiliate: ACLU of Vermont
April 25, 2000 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Vermont
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union commends the members of the General Assembly, which today completed the adoption of a Civil Union statute.

As adopted by the House, which concurred in the bill passed last week by the Senate 19-11, the bill will offer benefits to same-gender couples essentially equivalent to those enjoyed under Vermont law by married couples.

This comprehensive bill will go far to erase the bias that same-gender couples have long endured. And the new law will lead us away from stereotypes and slurs that have beset those lesbians and gay men generally.

The debate over the Civil Union bill was vigorous and overwhelmingly positive in both Houses. Some members stated that they were voting strictly in accordance with what they thought was a majority of their constituents — in essence following their view of public opinion surveys on this issue. That was surely their right.

But the Civil Union bill was about civil liberties — those constitutional rights which each of should hold as individuals, free of majority rule. Under the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions, no majority can tell any person what to say or not to say, which religious beliefs to hold, or whom to spend time with. Included among these basic rights is the right to live free of bias and prejudice, and to enjoy benefits common to all citizens. The Civil Union law was adopted in this spirit.

We in the ACLU offer special commendation to those members of the Senate and House who served all of their constituents by honoring and upholding the Vermont Constitution, and who in some instances raised their courage above perceived political risks.

Finally, we in the ACLU hope that passage of the Civil Union statute will be an occasion for a broad dialogue among Vermont citizens about how our unity and our diversity are each a strong part of who we are. Yes, this is a momentous day. But we hope that in the not-too-distant future we can all reflect on the goal of true and full equality and say, “How ordinary.”

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