Family Group Holds Vermont Accountable for "Attack on Marriage

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A group dedicated to American families warns that "lawsuits would become Vermont's largest export -- overtaking Ben & Jerry's ice cream and maple syrup" -- if Vermont's "civil union" bill becomes law.

The Colorado-based Focus on the Family is urging listeners of its radio broadcast to call Vermont lawmakers and hold them "accountable" for their "attack on marriage."

The Vermont House recently passed a so-called "civil union" bill, giving homosexuals the same legal benefits and privileges of traditional marriage. The bill now goes to the Vermont Senate, which is expected to pass it next month. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat, has promised to sign the bill, and if that happens, the law could take effect as early as September.

"What happens in Vermont is going to influence the institution of marriage in every state across the nation," said Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family vice president of public policy. "Legislators are trying to have it both ways - to say they don't support the unpopular notion of gay marriage, but then they vote for creating a quasi-marriage system that equates homosexual partners with married couples."

Minnery accuses Vermont lawmakers of "thumbing their nose" at Vermont citizens, who - according to polls - oppose homosexual marriage. Voters at recent Vermont town meetings, in non-binding referendums, overwhelmingly rejected civil unions.

"This 'civil union' bill could devastate marriage laws in the rest of this country. Homosexual couples in other states will be able to go to Vermont, be legally registered as a 'civil union,' then return to their home states to challenge their state's marriage laws," Minnery warned.

"We cannot allow Vermont to decide the fate of marriage for the rest of this country," he said.

Under Vermont's civil union bill, a homosexual couple would be able to obtain a license from their town clerk, after which they would be "united" at a "certification ceremony."

Should the relationship end, issues such as custody and the division of property would be handled by a family court judge, as is now done in heterosexual divorce cases.

The matter came to the legislature after a December ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court that homosexual couples were unconstitutionally being denied the rights and benefits available to married heterosexual couples.