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A commission created by the Vermont legislature has stopped short of calling for gay marriage, but the implication of its report seems pretty clear. From the Burlington Free Press :
MONTPELIER -- A panel charged with studying Vermont's eight-year experiment with civil unions for same-sex couples found this separate track from marriage fails to provide the equality and fairness promised when the law was passed in 2000.
The Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection also concluded that the state's social and political climate has moderated toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians since the volatile public debates over initiating civil unions.
The 11-member panel didn't, however, recommend that the Legislature pass a bill that would replace civil unions with same-sex marriage.
"The charge didn't really ask us to do that," said Tom Little, commissioner chairman, a former Republican House member and chief author of the state's civil union legislation. "The commission believes that making such a recommendation would undercut the purpose and usefulness of its work and this report."
You can read the full report here.
Besides setting the stage for gay marriage in the state (perhaps), the report sets up an interesting contrast in the Vermont gubernatorial race.
Republican Gov. Jim Douglas criticized the formation of the commission, calling it "divisive." House Speaker Gaye Symington, a Democrat who's mulling a run for governor, founded it, along with the State Senate president.
Here's how she framed the issue to the Free Press:
"What I wanted to learn was what is the experience of our Vermont neighbors who have civil unions?" she said. "And what public good is served by continuing to have separate status for same-gender couples?"
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