An op-ed in today's Burlington Free Press gives voice to some of the reasons why civil unions do not provide full equality for lesbian and gay couples.
The Vermont legislature created civil unions in 2000, after the state Supreme Court recognized in Baker v State that same-sex couples are entitled to have their relationships afforded the same legal benefits, protections, and obligations as heterosexual marriage under Vermont law. Vermont was the first state in the U.S. to create the separate-but-equal institution of civil unions (now joined by Connecticut, New Jersey and, beginning in 2008, New Hampshire).
Now after more than seven years of living with civil unions, Vermonters are asking whether they offer true equality. Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington and State Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin have formed a commission to study the issue, and will hold hearings around the state to evaluate public opinion on providing lesbian and gay couples access to full equality through civil marriage.
Visit Vermont Freedom to Marry for updates on the commission and dates of the public hearings.