Summarized by Kent Larsen
Ignoring LDS Suggestion, Vermont House Supports Gay 'Civil Unions'
(Vermont Supreme Court Deals Setback to Defense of Marriage)
New York Times 17Mar00 N1
By Carey Goldberg
No Same-Sex Marriages, but Many Parallel Benefits -- Senate Approval Seen
MONTPELIER, VERMONT -- Acting because of a Vermont Supreme Court
edict last fall requiring that the state give same-sex couples equal
benefits to those enjoyed by heterosexual couples, the Vermont House
of Representatives passed a bill creating 'civil unions' for same-sex
couples, but specifying that marriages are limited to heterosexual
couples. The controversial bill passed on a vote of 76 to 69 and now
moves to the state Senate where it is expected to be approved.
Vermont Governor Howard Dean has indicated that he will sign the
The bill is the most comprehensive grant of marriage benefits to
same-sex couples anywhere in the country. It gives the couples
virtually the same benefits and responsibilities of those that are
married, specifically including those benefits affected by child
custody law, probate law, workers' compensation law, family leave
benefit law and laws covering spousal confidentiality. Like a divorce
in the case of marriages, dissolving a 'civil union' can only happen
in family court.
The legislation was introduced following the mandate of the Vermont
Supreme Court, which ruled December 19th that same-sex couples have a
right under the Vermont Constitution to equal benefits. On January
12th LDS Church representatives testified before the Vermont House
Judiciary Committee and suggested that the state try to pass a
constitutional amendment to thwart the Supreme Court's decision.
Mormon-News is not aware of any further LDS efforts in Vermont on
Supporters of the bill and legal experts say that other states are
not obligated to recognize Vermont's civil unions, and the bill
doesn't appear to raise any of the legal questions about recognition
across state lines that same-sex marriage would raise.
Opponents of the bill claimed that the law left only a semantic
difference between marriage and civil unions. They adopted a duck as
the symbol of their view, saying 'if it looks like a duck, talks like
a duck and swims like a duck, then its a duck.' Before the vote they
distributed small yellow plastic ducks to legislative opponents, and
several of them could be seen on the desks of legislators.
Previous Mormon News coverage:
Vermont Supreme Court Deals Setback to Defense of Marriage
LDS Representative Tells Vermont Legislature to Amend Constitution
Same-Sex Marriage Polarizes Vermont