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Vermont Political Leaders Praise Court Ruling On DOMA

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy voted for the original Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 – a vote he now says is one of the biggest mistakes of his long career in the Senate.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Leahy has since emerged as one of the strongest critics of the law and has led efforts to repeal it:

“The ruling confirms my belief that the Constitution protects the rights of all Americans not just some but all of us and that no one should suffer from discrimination based on who they love,” said Leahy.  “And I

The ruling confirms my belief that the Constitution protects the rights of all Americans not just some but all of us -Sen. Patrick Leahy

share the joy of those families who had their right vindicated today. Including many legally married couples in my home state of Vermont.”

Senator Bernie Sanders voted against DOMA as a member of the U.S. House and he says the court ruling shows how far this issue has evolved since 1996.

“There has been a tsunami of change in terms of people’s attitudes toward gay marriage and gays in particular,” said Sanders. “And the fact that you’re now having conservative states looking at gay marriage and young people I mean in terms of young people they don’t even see it as an issue anymore their grandparents do but the young people say what is the problem?”

Congressman Peter Welch praised the ruling and noted that the national debate over same sex marriage started in Vermont in the winter of 2000 when lawmakers made Vermont the first state in the country to pass a Civil Unions law.

“They came to the conclusion that love really matters and that equality mattered,” said Welch. “And I think that this is just an inspiring example for me about how what we do in Vermont and how we do it is so important that we bring it to Washington.”

As Senate President in 2009, Governor Peter Shumlin led the effort to pass a same sex marriage law. He says there’s more work to be done on this issue across the country.

“We only have 12 states in America right now who are insisting that people’s civil rights are protected when it comes to marriage equality and we’ve got another 38 states to go,” said Shumlin. “But eventually even Washington D.C. the federal government is going to have to be on the right side of history on this important civil rights issue.”

Shumlin says he’s proud of the fact that Vermont became the first state in the country to enact same sex marriage through the legislative process. Before 2009, it had only been implemented through a court order or a public referendum.

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