Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Vermonters React To DOMA Decision

VPR/Annie Russell

Vermonters are reacting to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and woman.  A group assembled at RU12?, a community center in Burlington, cheered when the decision came down.

Lawyer Susan Murray was co-counsel on the case that lead to Vermont’s Civil Unions law. She says hundreds of people worked hard on the issue when the idea of marriage equality was foreign to most people. 

"They took the time and they screwed up their courage to go out there and tell their stories and they did it night after night in places where it was very hard to do it and those are the kind of people who are heroes in all this," Murray said.

Murray says DOMA blocked access to the federal benefits of marriage for same-sex couples, who have been able to legally marry in Vermont since 2009.

"They did not have access to all of the federal benefits. And there are over a thousand federal benefits that the federal government provides to legally married couples," she said.

Some of those benefits include Social Security spousal benefits, pension benefits and access to health insurance for spouses.

Reaction to the decision is also coming in from Vermont’s congressional delegation.

Senator Patrick Leahy is applauding the decision calling it an "important milestone in the continued march toward equality."

Senator Bernie Sanders said, "this is good news for all Americans who believe in equal justice."

Congressman Peter Welch said Vermont lead the way on marriage equality with the civil unions in 2000.

"We had brave Republicans and we had brave democrats go through what was a challenging debate. And they came to the conclusion that love really mattered. That equality mattered," Welch said.

Governor Peter Shumlin called the decision historic, saying he remembers with immense pride the day Vermont became the fist state to enact same-sex marriage through legislation.

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Latest Stories