Civil Unions


October 2000


In thinking about this civil unions business I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I know what to do. But where to begin?


One could cite the hypocrisy of those that for a century have treated marriage with distain and now want to “protect” it against gays and lesbians.  Or the “take backers” who through their own inattention to the political process helped let Vermont slip away in the first place. Actually one is tempted to land on the left (or what remains of it in Vermont) for remaining silent while an elitist establishment of the well heeled and college degreed gang up on a brave, feisty woman representing lunch pail working people whose only sin is that she has a point of view they don’t like.


Personally my target would be the butt that back-stabber Bernie Rome (who I supported against Dwyer in the 1998 primary by the way) who suddenly discovered she was anti-Semitic just about the time it became apparent she might win the office he wanted so badly. Everyone who is anyone in Vermont could ruin the careers of several some ones in Vermont by revealing something of similar seriousness to all the rest of the some ones in Vermont. Hell I’ve heard jokes and remarks about Catholics, Jews and, yes, Vermonters as a “class” at UVM  (by good people without a bigoted bone in their body) that, if they were “exposed” and appeared in the cold print of the Press would make the public’s hair crawl.


Yes there is enough exposed flesh to feed a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. But there is one crowd that deserves the real treatment, the deer fly treatment – right under the right shoulder blade where you can’t get at it.  And it is not the Supreme Court. The Court did what the Court had to do. Wrongly perhaps and it is a strong perhaps. But what did we expect after we gave them a pass on Act 60 when they did trash the Constitution of this state and thereby egregiously violated their oath of office to uphold it?


The deer flies should land squarely on Howard Dean and the legislators whose supreme arrogance led them to believe they could (in a democratic society) change 2000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition in three months and get away with it. Worse. Then they could whine and express surprise and outrage at the “intolerance” of those that opposed them. That they could hint darkly about the “kind” of people who had the audacity to put signs on their lawn asking to be given back their right to a have (as Howard Sloan Coffin of Strafford who supports civil unions so eloquently put it) a “democratic conversation” on the matter. That, indeed (although one must be careful not to say so out loud) these “chucks” are probably, well, you know, gay-bashers themselves. That they are at least “troubling” and in a way “dangerous.” Don’tchaknow.          


In this Howard Dean is mostly innocent. But consider this. Give him his claim that he didn’t sign the civil union bill in public to say his own hind end. What was the message, then, of the secret signing of the bill? It is this. Those that opposed the bill were so intolerant that they couldn’t handle a public signing. It would be salt in the wound. Better to protect them from their own disruptive proclivities. That was the fundamental insult. Howard Dean didn’t trust Vermonters.


The governor of the greatest state in the Union, whose history of tolerance and civil behavior is unsurpassed in American history crept away into a dark corner of the statehouse, gathered a few of his people around him and put pen to paper.