May passage would mark first time marriage equality enacted by legislative body
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, applauded today the Vermont House and Senate Leadership for committing to pass marriage equality legislation before the end of the legislative session in May. The legislation is expected to be introduced by Senate President Shumlin, Majority Leader Senator Campbell and the Assistant Majority Leader Senator Ayer on March 17th. If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, this would mark the first time marriage equality has become law by the legislative process.
"We applaud Vermont's House and Senate leaders for taking this bold step and working to pass this legislation in this session," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The momentum for marriage equality is real and tangible. For Vermont, which began this public conversation with civil unions in 2000, to move towards marriage equality sends a powerful message and we salute them."
"Senator Shumlin and Speaker Smith have shown real leadership," said Beth Robinson, Chair of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force. "They've never taken their eyes off the ball - the economic challenges facing Vermonters - but they understand that our legislature can and should also ensure equal rights for all Vermonters without further delay."
"We have devoted the first half of the session to finding ways for the legislature to help stimulate the economy and create jobs for Vermonters," said Senator Shumlin. "We will continue our focus on the economy by encouraging green energy development, targeting money toward venture capital and funding a variety of transportation projects. We will also pass legislation to improve our election system and end the inequality in our civil marriage laws."
"I am proud of the work that the legislature has done in the first half of the session," said Speaker Smith. "We have proposed a balanced approach to the budget, initiatives to make our government more efficient and passed one of the toughest sex offender bills in the nation. I look forward to continuing our work to make Vermont a more sustainable and prosperous state."
In addition to Vermont, nine states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts and Connecticut recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law. Four other states-California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Oregon-plus Washington, D.C. provide gay and lesbian couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Maine, Washington and Hawaii provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all the rights provided to married couples. New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples legally married outside of the state.
Gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state-laws.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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