By Guy Page
Supporters of gay marriage and unrestricted abortion rights celebrated yesterday, December 13, as chief executives in Vermont and Washington, D.C. signed landmark legislation into law.
A delegation of Vermont lawmakers stood shivering in the large crowd on the back lawn of the White House as President Joe Biden signed the ‘Respect for Marriage’ Act, guaranteeing the right to gay marriage in all 50 states.
Reps. Brian Cina (P-Burlington), Taylor Small (I-Winooski) and Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg) all were present at the White House by invitation. “When I first was appointed to the Legislature in 1994, as the only openly gay member of the Statehouse, I could not have dreamt that this day would come,” Lippert reportedly told VTDigger. “It’s just very, very exciting to see.”
Many other Vermont lawmakers joined about 150 others more in the House Chambers of the Vermont State House as Governor Phil Scott and Secretary of State Jim Condos signed the parchment officially enrolling Proposition 5, the ‘personal reproductive autonomy’ amendment and an anti-slavery amending into the Vermont Constitution.
Gov. Phil Scott’s office issued the following statement yesterday:
Today Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued two proclamations announcing the ratification and adoption of 2022’s Proposition 2 and Proposition 5, amending the Vermont Constitution. In a ceremony required by State law, Secretary of State Jim Condos certified to the Governor the articles of amendment had been adopted by the voters of the State. The amendments were enrolled on the parchment and deposited with the Secretary of State, making official the ratification and adoption by Vermont voters in the 2022 General Election.
The Governor, Secretary of State, Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House addressed the attendees gathered in the House Chamber.
“Today, the Vermont Constitution takes on new meaning as a source of inspiration and law, clearly showing the world we believe that everyone has the right to personal autonomy,” said Governor Scott. “I want to thank Vermonters for participating in our democracy, and making these historic changes, and all those who took part in the effort to move these proposals through this important process.”
“This is a special and significant day. The Vermont Constitution is the governing document of our brave little state. Amendments to the Constitution are rare and important occurrences,” said Secretary Condos. “This year, Vermonters made clear that our Constitution should reflect our values as a state. That our state is a place where slavery of all forms is prohibited, and where the government has no place restricting any individual’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”
Vermont’s constitutional amendment process is long and deliberate. First, an amendment must be introduced in the State Senate in a non-election year of a biennium. Then, the amendment must pass both chambers of the Legislature that session, and the following, before being presented to Vermont voters for a vote on ratification. Today’s ceremony marks the conclusion of a long process representing years of hard work by Legislative leaders.
Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint also gave remarks at the ceremony.
“Before I ran for office, I studied and taught history. The stories of the people who fought to amend the U.S. Constitution are some of the most compelling stories I shared with my students over the years. Just like at the national level, we don’t make it easy to amend our state constitution, but we know it must be able to be updated to reflect our shared values and ideals. I want to recognize those who worked hard to bring these two amendments to pass, particularly those most impacted by these changes: women and Black people who didn’t see themselves fully protected in the Constitution. Their hard work has made our state better for all.”
House Speaker Jill Krowinski addressed the gathering in the House Chamber.
“It has been over four years in the making to get to this historic moment today. The strong vote by Vermonters to approve these constitutional amendments made it resoundingly clear there is no place for harmful language rooted in the history of slavery in our constitution and reproductive liberty will be guaranteed for Vermonters for generations to come. We must continue to do the work to protect our civil liberties and show the rest of the country that we can work together to create a better tomorrow.”
“I want to thank the Legislature for the hard work undertaken to put these important Amendments before the people of Vermont, and I want to thank the Governor for his support of this important historic moment,” said Secretary Condos. “Lastly, I want to thank each and every Vermont voter for engaging in the voting process, proving that democracy and civility are alive and well in the Green Mountain state.”
Official Vermont election results, including for Proposition 2 and Proposition 5, can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. The Governor’s proclamations can be found on the Governor’s website.