Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, December 21, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Speaking Of Getting Married


Atrios brought this to my attention:

Terrence McNally, the playwright, and Thomas Joseph Kirdahy, a public-interest lawyer, affirmed their partnership last evening at the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover, Vt. Millicent B. Atkin, a justice of the peace for Dover, Vt., performed the civil union ceremony.

I know this ain't exactly the same as marriage, but I'm just damn glad I live in a state that was able to muster the will to pass civil unions given the political climate of the day, let alone the current environment.

Before passage, Vermonters were against even civil unions by more than a 2 to 1 margin (70% con, IIRC), and many towns had informal referenda, and there were lots of public hearings with all sorts of hand wringing. We got a flier in our mailbox telling us that if the bill passed, fags would flock to Vermont, bringing AIDS, turning our beaches into depraved places of nude frolic, and making our kids gay. One Rep gave a speech in the House telling us that God's wrath would literally come down upon our State. I do not exaggerate any of this.

In the face of intense opposition, the Legislature did the right thing and passed the civil unions bill, which did protect gay couples' civil rights at the state level, though it does nothing for them from the Fed POV. Gov Dean signed the law privately, which many decried. I have no problems with his decision--this was a divisive issue, and I see no value in his rubbing the victory in people's faces.

As it was, the GOP took control of the House as a result of the ensuing backlash--many GOP candidates campaigned on the issue and promised to repeal the abomination. In the wake of the CU law, the Take Back Vermont movement was born*. Fortunately the Dems held the Senate, effectively preventing any reversal, and Dean also won a very close three-way election, assailed on both the Right and Left.

The CU concept isn't perfect, and I know some people want universal marriage rights. I'm cool with gay marriage, but I'm also pragmatic about all this: if we can make progress and create an institution that does actually guarantee all the same civil rights as marriage, I don't give a rat's ass what we call it. I've been told I'm immoral for supporting gay rights, and I've also been condemned for being an incrementalist. Such is life in the middle--maybe that's why I admire Dean so much.

Apropos of nothing, my wife and I were married on this date by a local JP who conducts civil union ceremonies. We deliberately chose her because of that.

Anyway, congratulations and best wishes to McNally and Kirdahy. Hopefully some day people won't have to come to Vermont to celebrate their unions, and will enjoy their fundamental rights no matter where they live. I look forward to the day that this isn't news.

Peace,
ntodd

* [Update: I should note that the current owner of the takebackvermont.com domain is not associated with the original movement. We still see "Take Back Vermont" signs, usually in front of homes in Vermont's so-called Northeast Kingdom, where we have a camp (cottage or cabin to you folks outside of New England). The whole point of the movement was to "take back Vermont" from, uh...I'm not sure who exactly. Apparently bad people in Montpelier who ignore the will of The People, or something.] 
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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.

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