Tag Archive: Vermont

DGA Chair Gov. Peter Shumlin Endorsement of Barbara Buono

Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont is Chair of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA). He made this statement today:

Barbara Buono understands the challenges facing New Jersey’s middle-class families because she’s lived through them. That’s why she’s spent her entire career fighting to create jobs, improve education, expand access to quality health care, and balance budgets. Unfortunately, Governor Christie has failed to deliver on his promise to turn the state around. He’s blown a hole in the budget while New Jersey ranks near the bottom of the nation in unemployment, foreclosures, property taxes, and business climate. New Jersey needs a governor focused on creating jobs and expanding opportunity for New Jersey’s working families and that’s exactly the kind of governor Barbara Buono will be.


Should Blue Jersey Push To Take on DoMA?

What say ye, Blue Jersey? And what would that look like? – promoted by Rosi

It looks like Vermont has joined New York and Connecticut in suing the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, or DoMA, the Clinton era law that bans recognition of marriage equality at the federal level.

The Obama administration has already stopped defending the legislation, something that sent Republicans in the House of Representatives around the bend.  They’ve spent almost a million dollars already defending the bill that the President and the country don’t want.

Blue Jersey has been a staunch advocate of marriage equality since the early days of the site, and continues to be so.

So should we start pushing for New Jersey to join the suit?  Sure, it’s not likely to happen given the current occupant of Drumthwacket, but it’s still important.  Should this odious law and the resulting lawsuit not be settled by 2014 we may — hard work and smart candidate selection willing — have a supportive Governor ready to help.

So, do we join the chorus?

VT Senate President: We’ve been there – You’ll be fine.

Early in yesterday’s marathon testimony in favor of marriage equality, came Senator Diane Snelling, Republican of Vermont, whose father was Governor of that state, testified that there was no backlash for legislators who voted for equality, and that “when you do the right thing, it’s met with respect.” Today, we have a letter, from the Senator Peter Shumlin – Senate President Pro Tem. The Dick Codey, the Steve Sweeney, of Vermont.

His state was first with Civil Unions, and voted to replace that with Marriage Equality, when they saw Civil Unions when they saw civil unions failed irreparably. Point-by-point, Sen. Shumlin hits all the very political concerns that some of our legislators may need reassurance on. It’s a hot letter. Has your Senator read it?

An Open Letter To The New Jersey Legislature

From Peter Shumlin, Vermont Senate President Pro Tem


As you consider a vote to extend the civil marriage laws to include same-sex couples, let me offer my two cents, based on our own experience here in Vermont:  Just Do It!

In April of this year, supermajorities of Vermont’s Senate and General Assembly voted to eliminate the discrimination against same-sex couples in our marriage laws.  A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in our Senate voted for the bill.  For some, it was an easy vote; for others, it was a scary vote.  But I can assure you that for everyone who voted for the bill, it was among the proudest acts of their careers.

The opportunity to make a difference in the central civil rights movement of this generation-to join the heroes that came before us in shaping the march to a more inclusive and just nation- only comes a once in a political lifetime.  Don’t let this moment pass you by.  And don’t be swayed by the fear-mongers.  I can tell you from firsthand experience:  They’re wrong.

To those who say the legislature shouldn’t take up this issue in these tough economic times:  Our business leaders made it clear that if Vermont wants to compete in the 21st century economy-if we want to draw the most talented workforce and fortify our high-tech and sustainable energy sectors- we need to ensure that our laws are inclusive and welcoming.  This is a realm where the private sector is way ahead of government.  Most competitive Vermont employers had already adopted whatever policies they could in order to attract the best talent; they needed us to catch up.

To those who fear that eliminating the law’s discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens will somehow tramp on the religious freedom of others:
It’s just not true.  Our law, like New Jersey’s bill, contains provisions designed to reinforce religious freedom.  By making a civil marriage license available to all committed couples, while preserving faith communities’ freedom to celebrate or decline to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations, we’ve put all faith communities on the same footing.

To those who argue that New Jersey’s civil union law is enough:
We learned from nine years of experience in Vermont that separate would never be equal.  From increased challenges around health insurance and out-of-state travel, to the reality that we can’t invent a word in 2000 that has anything like the meaning and significance of marriage, to the rent in our social fabric that follows when our laws divide us on the basis of sexual orientation-the civil union law did not, and could not-ensure genuine legal equality.

And to those who fear a backlash that will divide your community:
We’re past that.  I know about backlash; in 2000 after we passed our civil union bill, we experienced backlash and division in Vermont.  It wasn’t fun.  But that was then.  I’ve been struck by how different the conversation has been in 2009-and how off base our fears of backlash in 2009 have proven to be.  After our bill passed, the hoopla died down in a matter of days.  Even citizens who would not have voted for a marriage law have moved on.  Sure, there will always be a small minority objecting loudly to equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.  But the vast majority of citizens simply aren’t bothered by legally recognizing the two men or two women living next door.

As I’ve begun campaigning to be Vermont’s next Governor, I’ve traveled the state from top to bottom.  I don’t hear much about the marriage law; the Vermonters I’ve met have a lot of other things on their minds.  Of those who do bring it up, nearly all are incredibly grateful.  It seems most everyone has an uncle, daughter, or family friend that’s gay.

I have no doubt that for some of you, this vote seems scary.  Fear is the opposition’s strongest weapon at this point.  I promise you-if you do the right thing, you won’t regret it.


I invite my fellow elected officials to contact me if you’d like to talk more about our experiences in Vermont.  You can reach me at pete@goputney.com, or by phone at my Senate office at 802-828-3806.

Marriage Equality: Two states in one week, and neither is New Jersey

We were flooded with emails a few minutes ago when our server was down, apologies for all those who tried to log on as the news was breaking in Vermont – Rosi

New Jersey will not be the first state in America to recognize marriage for same-sex couples through the legislative process.

The Vermont Senate overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’s promised veto this morning 23-5, and the House of Representatives followed hours later 100-49, a large enough margin to override. It’s done. Marriage equality goes into effect in Vermont September 1.

Video and liveblog from Burlington Free Press here.

Meanwhile, inside of a week, two very different states – Iowa and Vermont – guarantee for their citizens what New Jersey cannot offer hers. This is a will of the people moment in American history.

Senator Codey, Senator Roberts, I’m talking to you now. This is an equal protection issue, a civil rights question that New Jerseyans recognize – gay or straight. It’s not fringe, and it’s not some favor you’d be doing for a minority population, or powerhouse lobby in the state.

It’s the right thing to do. You know it already. And we’re waiting for your leadership. We don’t even have to be first anymore.

UPDATE: Steven Goldstein, Garden State Equality:

New Jersey legislators, when will you wake up and smell the inequality?    

Today’s enactment of a marriage equality law in Vermont marks the official end of the failed civil union era in America.   Civil union laws now join the Edsel, New Coke and 8-Track Tapes in the dustbin of history’s failed inventions.

New Jersey’s separate and unequal civil union law is an abject embarrassment to the nearly nine million people who live in our progressive state.    Vermont, the state that invented civil unions in 2000, passed a marriage equality law today because legislators have seen that civil unions did NOT work – and will never work – to provide equality as marriage would.

Vermont understands, and so does the clear majority of New Jerseyans who support marriage equality:

Civil unions are to equality what AIG bonuses are to corporate integrity.    

The time to act is now.

Blue Jersey: Use the comments to let your legislators know what you want them to do.

Update 2 by Hopeful:  More good news as the DC Council voted to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states today.

Update 3 by Jason Springer: Here is what GSE says you can do to help:

Please call the following New Jersey legislators and tell them, “Vermont just enacted marriage equality because Vermont legislators understand that civil unions do not work to provide equality.  I support marriage equality and I ask you, when will New Jersey do the same?”

The legislators we ask you call today, no matter where in New Jersey you live, are:

Senate President Dick Codey, (973) 731-6770

Senator Steve Sweeney, (856) 251-9801

Senator Fred Madden, (856) 232-6700