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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Week of Victories

Statement from Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director

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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