Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are all Vermont politicians this smart?

Vermont has a commission set up to study whether they should graduate from civil unions to full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Some people may think that the commission is stacked against opponent of gay marriage--I think they just have some common sense. Of course, common sense is the enemy of the homophobe:
Nearly all of Monday's meeting was thick in legal arguments and relatively low-key. But sparks flew as commissioners had some tough questions for Monte Stewart, a Utah attorney and president of the Marriage Law Foundation, a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Stewart told the commission that if what he called "genderless marriage" was legalized, it would undermine the benefits of traditional marriages between one man and one woman. He said traditional marriage is a vital social institution that keeps societies together and ensures that children grow up in a safe environment.

"You have the power to dissolve man-woman marriage by suppressing that meaning," he told the commission. "By suppressing that meaning, you lose the social goods that flow from that meaning."

Sen. John Campbell, D-Chittenden, said he had a difficult time following the logic behind Stewart's belief that same-sex marriages will undermine the healthy care of children. When he worked as a police officer, he said he saw many heterosexual married couples that "treated their kids in ways that no kid should be treated."

"I wouldn't even call them families," Campbell said. "But I can assure you that the gay and lesbian couples that I know who are raising children, are far better situations than any of those heterosexual families."

Stewart admitted that the institution of marriage has been wounded over the years due to divorce and bad parenting. But he added that a recent study linked population declines, or as he called it "childlessness," to communities that have strong political support for gay marriage and he cited San Francisco and Vermont as examples.

Commissioner Johanna Leddy Donovan, a Democratic state representative from Burlington, joked that she was always told it was the "lack of jobs, high taxes and cold winters" that have resulted in the state's youth leaving Vermont for other prospects.

Meanwhile, [former Vermont Governor Phil] Hoff told Stewart that he just doesn't understand how he can see expanding marriage rights as "exclusionary to man-woman marriage."

"Why is that so?" he asked. "Why can't they live side-by-side?"

Apparently it got so bad that the commission chair had to tell the two sides to break it up. But I'm glad that the Vermont commissioners recognize that the anti-gay marriage arguments don't make any sense. "If we let gays marry, that will destroy the marriage of male/female couples!" Uh, yeah--how will it do that, exactly?

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