Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PFLAG Applauds Historic Vermont Vote on Marriage Equality

The Vermont legislature, in an historic vote, has overridden a veto by the state’s governor to grant full marriage equality to lesbian and gay couples. The veto override, which was approved by both the state House and Senate earlier today, makes Vermont the first state in the country to successfully implement full marriage recognition for same-sex couples through a legislative vote. In 2000, Vermont granted recognition to same-sex couples under a statewide civil unions law. Marriage will now become legal in the state on September 1st.

“From America’s heartland to the hills of Vermont, our country is living up to its promise of equality for everyone as it never has before,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG. “Today, Vermont’s state motto of ‘Freedom and Unity’ rings true for the estimated 2,100 same-sex couples who call the state home. The people’s representatives have made history, declaring a separate recognition for some families as being unequal in the eyes of the law. And Vermont’s families have won a joyous victory, gaining the rights, protections and recognition they deserve under the law.”

Today’s vote in Vermont makes the state the fourth in the country, following Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, to recognize marriage equality. It also becomes the first to successfully do so through the legislative process. Although California’s legislature has twice approved a similar measure, lawmakers have been unable to override the governor’s veto. In November, California voters narrowly approved Proposition 8, which overturned a court decision granting marriage equality in the state.

According to the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, Vermont is home to nearly 24,000 lesbian and gay citizens, including more than 2,100 same-sex couples. Lesbian and gay couples, the Institute recently found, live in every county in the state.

Photo: Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, right, gets a hug from Stan Baker following the passage of a gay marriage bill in Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, April 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

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