Encouraged By CT, VT Looks Foward To Gay Marriage

Connecticut’s Supreme Court struck a blow to civil unions this month.

Activists and politicians have long decried the “separate, but equal” institution, but the Connecticut decision put unions’ deficiency in stark relief, concluding, “…Because the institution of marriage carries it it a status and significance that the newly crated classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm.”

With that ruling, Vermont’s progressive leaders are looking to break their own “civil” bonds.

That state passed civil unions eight years ago, when the political climate was far more foreboding, but are feeling rejuvenated and ready to roar into the future to institute gay marriage there:

“I feel the landscape has changed, especially from eight years ago,” said Rep. Mark Larson, D-Burlington, who was the lead sponsor of a gay marriage bill during the last legislative session. “I don’t think we’ll see the divisiveness that we saw before. Vermont has come a long way since then.”

With more than two months before the start of the new legislative session and an election coming next month, advocates and lawmakers were mum on who might be major players in this discussion and what the main strategy to pass such a bill would look like.

“I haven’t been talking strategy with anyone yet,” said Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, a co-sponsor of Larson’s gay marriage bill. “But I expect it will come up next year and I certainly hope that we pass it.”

The big difference between Vermont and Connecticut – and, in fact, California and Massachusetts – could be that lawmakers take the reins on this one, rather than leaving it to the court. If that happens, the state would be the first to legislatively pass gay marriage, thus poking holes in that tired, old “activist judges” argument the right likes so much.