Some good news for our gay marriage movement. Yesterday , the Vermont State Senate passed the state’s gay marriage bill 26-4 in its chambers. The bill now goes to the Vermont House for debate and hopeful passage. Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, opposes the bill but has not said whether he will veto it. The tide seems to be turning for gay marriage in New England (my homeland), with Maine and New Hampshire considering similar bills. Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2003 or so.
Last week, the lesbian older sister of one of my childhood friends testified in front of the Vermont Senate. Kristin Kany’s family has a rich political history in Maine and her brother Dan is one of my oldest friends. He shared Kristen’s testimony with some of us yesterday and I thought I’d share her words here. I couldn’t recommend a better speaker for the gay rights movement. This is exactly the type of representative we need everywhere to help this movement.
Kristin, can we clone you?
Good evening everyone, honorable committee members,
My name is Kristin Kany.
I live in Burlington with my 4 year old son. We moved there in July from Hinesburg where I had lived for 8 years.
I love the state of Vermont and the United States of America.
I am a proud citizen and a true patriot.
I work hard.
I pay my taxes.
I give much more to charities than my income can support.
I have volunteered for hundreds of charities and non-profits over the years—everything from being on the Planning Board of the Special Olympics Penguin Plunge, being a member of the Hinesburg Recreation Commission, volunteer coaching of lots of community sports including teams at two local high schools, I’ve worked at soup kitchens, events for the elderly, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, M.S., Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer events. I even volunteered at the International Paralympic Games for the Disabled in Atlanta.
I am a good citizen.
I help my neighbors.
I do everything I possibly can for my parents and brothers.
I teach Religious Education at my church.
I walk my talk and talk my walk.
I also have the distinctive honor of representing my country as an athlete.
In 1994, I was one of 30 women chosen from the entire United States to represent and compete for our country in Scotland at the World Cup for Rugby.
Not many Vermonters or even American citizens can claim that medal of Patriotism.
However, despite all that I do for my community, state and country, I am still only given the rights of a Second Class Citizen.
I have to say, I am probably one of the most moral people I know.
I live with the utmost integrity.
I know I annoy some people, but
I do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
Ask anyone who knows me.
I truly embrace our Founding Fathers’ declarations to the world that we are a country that believes emphatically in the inherent worth of each individual.
Equality is our cornerstone.
Freedom is our foundation.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are essential components for the concept of freedom upon which our democracy in based.
I don’t know how many of you are parents, but I know that what I want most for my 4 year old is for him to be truly happy.
(And he is. He is THE best pursuer of happiness I have ever known. He embraces each day with such joyful passion – full of curiosity, love, compassion, awe, singing constantly—a true indicator of happiness. Everyone who meets him comments on his infectious joy and zest for life. )
I am such a proud parent.
Similarly, I also know that what my own parents have wanted most for me is to be truly happy.
That even outweighs a big salary!
Yet when someone is designated a Second Class citizen, by its own government, that happiness quotient can be severely compromised.
Ask any person of color.
Ask any Native American, or Irish, or Jew, or elderly woman, or divorcee.
Deemed less than does not make whole.
Vermont’s current marriage law goes against the principles pledged by our Founding Fathers.
You have the legislative power and the contemporary obligation to make me and many other just as noble Vermont citizens, you have the ability to make us legally whole.
We are NOT Less Than.
Move us up from the back of the bus.
Please give us, we who are your brothers, sisters, your mothers, fathers, your grandparents, cousins, co-workers, your sons, daughters, we who are your friends, the people you know and love, please give us rights equal to your own.
Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness on this significant need.