The full report can be read here. I’d like you to read it yourself (it’s quite comprehensive), but I do have a couple of interesting sidenotes to point out:
Based on the state’s tradition of equality under the law and of strong families, for over 30 years, Vermont probate courts have qualified gay and lesbian individuals as adoptive parents. (Ed–I did not know that fact. And Florida still won’t let us adopt!)
Supporters of same-sex marriage (at the hearings) outnumbered opponents by roughly 20 to one.
Finally, I’d like to quote one small passage of testimony from the report:
A man from Randolph wrote about how his father refused to attend his civil union
ceremony while he happily attended the marriage of the man’s gay brother in Massachusetts a short time later.
“My father emphatically would not attend a civil union ceremony. In his mind, a civil union was something for and about gay people. Not gay himself, he felt apart from it, and was unable to conceptualize a role for himself in this gay ceremony. . .[In attending my brother‟s wedding, my] father understood what marriage means, and he understood his social role in welcoming a new son into his family through marriage. A marriage meant something to my father that a civil union could in no way replicate. . .I urge you to consider the deep social significance that marriage has, and to acknowledge in your report to the State Legislature the inability of civil unions to replicate that.”
I quote that section because it gets to the heart of the matter: what marriage means. This father, with two gay sons, could wrap his head around the concept of his son marrying another man, but not “civil unions.” The implications are vast, but the simplist one is that for all of the protesting from certain factions who don’t feel the need to “fit in,” gays and lesbians who seek to marry, do, in most ways, seek to fit in–to be recognized as no different from other couples in society. Marriage, with all the rights and responsibilities it entails, is the only way to do that.
The objections noted in the report were solely based on religious views, or the notion that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice.” Frankly, the notion of homosexuality as a choice has always boggled me as a gay man; while I dearly love my partner with all of my heart and soul, I’d have never chosen the initial period of ostracization from friends and family that accompanied my “coming out.” And while we could have a 1,000 page thread debating the Bible and Homosexuality ad nauseum, the Bible is not the law. Thank God for that–I own some corduroys!
The report stopped short of recommending full marriage, because that wasn’t the point of the commission–rather, they were appointed to “listen to the testimony of Vermonters on these issues, to look at the legal issues, and to report on what (they) found.”