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A Week of Victories for Marriage Equality

Statement from Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Jennifer C. Pizer

This is a week we all will remember: first Iowa, then Vermont, then D.C — all emphatically embracing equality, respect, and consistent treatment of all families under law. We have turned another critical corner in this equal rights movement.

A decade ago, Vermont opened an important back door when it created civil unions for same–sex couples. Now, after years of experience with that two–tier system, the Green Mountain State has decisively rejected the harms that come unavoidably with any class system and is inviting lesbian and gay couples in through the front door of marriage, just as it does for their heterosexual relatives, neighbors and co–workers. We congratulate the courageous elected officials who voted to over–ride the Governor's veto and our tireless colleagues at Vermont Freedom to Marry for their years of education and advocacy. We also congratulate our friends at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, whose victory in Baker v. Vermont made today's success possible.

Just four days ago, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Lambda Legal's case that same–sex couples cannot be excluded from marriage. They learned the lessons of Vermont, Connecticut, California, New Jersey and other places where civil unions and domestic partnerships reduce some of the harms to same–sex couples, but also marginalize and humiliate them by relegating them to second–class status. And today the District of Columbia Council acted on that lesson, too, by unanimously voting to recognize marriages of same-sex couples and moving closer to fairness.

Most Americans understand the degrading injuries of class systems. Our country always has been about a commitment to ending them. As Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia make crystal clear this week, understanding is dawning for more and more people that unequal treatment of lesbian and gay couples is just another caste system, and it is becoming increasingly obvious to people of good will that fairness, decency and the Golden Rule demand marriage equality for all.


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