HRC Applauds Vermont Legislature’s Historic Vote Recognizing Marriage Equality

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514
Trevor Thomas | Phone: 202/216.1547

HRC Applauds Vermont Legislature’s Historic Vote Recognizing Marriage Equality

Historic Vote Recognizing Marriage for Lesbian and Gay Couples

WASHINGTON -
The
Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauded the Vermont
legislature for voting today to  recognize marriage for lesbian and gay
couples.  The state Senate voted 23-5 and the House of Representatives
voted 100-49 to override Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto, making Vermont the
first state to recognize marriage for committed lesbian and gay couples
through the legislative process.  The Vermont legislation goes into
effect September 1.
 
“This
historic vote in the Vermont legislature reminds us of the incredible
progress being made toward equality.  Less than five years ago, lesbian
and gay couples began marrying in Massachusetts.  Now, with the Iowa
court decision last Friday and today’s vote in Vermont, there will be
four states recognizing the right to marry for loving, committed
lesbian and gay couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese.  “We congratulate Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin,
Speaker of the House Shap Smith, the other legislators who voted for
marriage, the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, and MassEquality for
ensuring that all couples will now enjoy the freedom to marry in
Vermont.  This is a law that will strengthen families and give meaning
to the promise of equal rights for all.”
 
“The
struggle for equal rights is never easy. I was proud to be President of
the Senate nine years ago when Vermont created civil unions,” said
Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Shumlin.  “Today we have overridden
the Governor's veto. I have never felt more proud of Vermont as  we
become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality  not
as the result of a court order, but  because it is the right thing to
do.”
 
The
Human Rights Campaign mobilized its members in Vermont to support this
legislation.  National Field Director Marty Rouse, a former Vermont
resident, was in Vermont since Monday working with legislators and
activists to build support for the override votes.
 
Vermont
becomes the first state to recognize marriage equality for lesbian and
gay couples through legislation.  California’s legislature has twice
passed similar legislation that was vetoed and not enacted into law. 
Vermont is the fourth state, after Massachusetts, Connecticut, and
Iowa, to extend marriage equality to committed lesbian and gay
couples.  Iowa’s state supreme court unanimously ruled on April 3, 2009
that the state constitution guarantees lesbian and gay couples the
equal right to marry.
 
New
York recognizes marriages by lesbian and gay couples legally entered
into in another jurisdiction.  California recognized marriage by
lesbian and gay couples between June and November of 2008, before
voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state
constitution to prohibit marriage equality.  The Proposition 8 vote has
been challenged in court; a decision by the state supreme court is
expected by June.
 
Lesbian
and gay couples do not receive federal rights and responsibilities in
any state.  To learn more about state by state legislation, visit:www.hrc.org/state_laws.
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The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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