originally blogged Wed. 23 April
Last summer the Vermont Legislature created the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection to explore the possibility of expanding Vermont's Civil Union law to grant gays full marriage rights. The commission held public meetings to ask Vermonters how they feel about Civil Unions and gay marriage. The commission just released it's report to the Legislature. The report strongly recommended that legislators seriously consider the differences between Civil Unions and gay marriage, but the report did not actually endorse or condone either.
The most interesting part of this commission and it's report is the opponents to gay marriage. There are several groups in Vermont working against gay marriage. Two of these groups actively boycotted the commission's hearings. When the report was issued, the president of one of the groups said, ""They can't really claim to have heard from all Vermonters." If he is suggesting that the commission's report is faulty because the commission did not receive information from the (supposedly) many Vermonters against gay marriage, then he has only himself to blame. When a series of public hearings are scheduled for the express purpose of gaining information about a subject and you have information you consider important to the topic, then you attend the meetings. You do not behave like a grade schooler and refuse to share your information because you assumed your voice would not be heard, or because you assumed the leaders of the hearings were already decided. If they were already decided, then they wouldn't be hosting public hearings. Nor do you go out and hold your own set of hearings in opposition to the commission, which is what this one anti- gay marriage group is planning to do. First of all, the commission has already issued it's report, your hearings are too late. Second, you should have attended the commission's hearings.
According to an editorial in today's Rutland Herald, the commission reported that there was very little opposition to gay marriage voiced in the hearings. The legislature is going to read this, and very likely conclude that there is only a minority opposition to gay marriage. The legislature is (I hope) going to act on this information and begin the process of allowing gays to marry. And then the opposition groups are going to come crawling out of the woodwork, complaining that their voices weren't heard at the commission's meetings and they have been disenfranchised from the process. The opposition groups are going to point to the commission's report and claim that it was biased in favor of gay marriage from the beginning. The opposition is going to be loud and spread misinformation and attempt to convince Vermonters that gay marriage is just another way that the legislature is forcing it's liberal, left wing agenda on Vermonters. And that's going to piss me off. Because the opportunity was given for everyone to voice their opinion, share their information, and provide facts to support their ideas. If you chose to stuff a sock in your mouth and not share important information, then that's your fault. Don't try to blame it on anybody else.
I sincerely hope that when the opposition groups begin their whining and complaining we all remember who it was who refused to participate in the discussion in the first place.