Monday, March 23, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Applauds Vermont State Senate for Passing Marriage Bill


 
26-4 Vote Sends Measure to House; Bill Would Allow Gay and Lesbian Couples to Marry Under Vermont Law
 
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, applauded the Vermont State Senate for its bipartisan 26-4 vote in support of S. 115, a bill that would recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law.  The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives.
 
“We encourage the House to expeditiously pass this bill and the Governor to sign it into law, giving all committed couples in Vermont the basic respect and dignity they deserve,”  said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “We congratulate Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, Senator John Campbell, Senator Claire Ayer, the 23 other Senators who voted yes, and the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, on this strong statement of support for equality.”
 
Two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, currently permit gay and lesbian couples to marry under state law.  New York recognizes marriages by gay and lesbian couples legally married outside of the state. Vermont was the first state to recognize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, in 2000.   If S. 115 is enacted into law, Vermont would become the first state to adopt marriage equality legislatively.  (California’s legislature has twice passed bills that would have permitted gay and lesbian couples to marry, but each bill was vetoed).
 
In addition to Vermont,  seven states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition, short of marriage, for gay and lesbian couples.  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. 
 
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.

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