I just recently received an invitation to a wedding for a good friend of mine this fall and it reminded me of this piece I wrote intending to be an OP ED that never happened shortly after VT’s legislature passed the Freedom to Marry Bill. I thought I’d post it here instead.
Freedom & Unity
“Out of storm and manifold perils rose an enduring state, the home of freedom and unity,” Thomas Chittenden wrote more than two hundred years ago, later cited upon his epitaph, but he could have been writing about today, couldn’t he? What a storm we’re in. The leading argument against our legislature’s recent victory for gay marriage was that during our economic crisis this was not the time or place for such battles. Firstly, I disagree. There is always time to defend our neighbor’s civil liberties, especially here in Vermont. However, the opposition was right on one account; it is quite the economic storm, but it cannot distract us from our principles of right and wrong. It is a very tough time, more than 12 million unemployed, people lost and losing their homes. Times are tough, believe me, I know, but not for one minute would I want someone else’s rights trampled upon to improve my own situation.
Freedom and Unity. Say it. Think about it. I mean, really think about it. It’s quite the state motto. I can’t think of one better. In Vermont we have always encouraged one another’s Freedom and have been Unified in defending it.
Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery.
The University of Vermont (UVM) was the first to graduate an African American from an American college or university. UVM was also the first American university or college to admit to membership in Phi Beta Kappa women and, again, African Americans.
To legalize same sex Civil Unions.
Another UVM first, Gail Kimball – a UVM alum – is the first woman to head the U.S. Forest Service.
Consuelo Northrup Bailey (1899-1976), another UVM alum, and native Vermonter was the first ever female State’s Attorney, Speaker of the State House of Representatives, and Lieutenant Governor.
To legalize gay marriage by legislative vote.
The list goes on, but you get the point. We Vermonters know the difference between right and wrong. Fairness and Injustice. And the nice thing is, we don’t sit idle by and let it continue. We make a stand. We Unify around each other, our neighbors, fellow Vermonters, brothers and sisters. This is what we do, especially when the chips are down. It’s why we can walk down Main Street and look each other in the eye and smile a “hello.”
In our current economic crisis I can think of no better work, no greater cause, no more important issue to champion than our neighbor’s Freedom. It is what makes us Americans and how we define ourselves as Vermonters. We’ve got plenty of other challenges ahead of us, but as equals we can Unify and topple them one by one; just one more reason to love our glorious State – a state of ardent, free, noble individuals, but of one strong, accepting, and unified community.