Yes, Vermont law allows same-sex civil unions,

BUT…

To use the local jargon, they ain’t happy about it.

Despite the fact that Vermont has passed this law (and I applaud them for it), the people living in Vermont are less than pleased to put it nicely. We're not talking about the kids who go to college or boarding schools in the Green Mountain State, nor are we talking about the Manhattan couple who owns a summerhouse near Mount Snow. We're not even talking about the countless retirees who have made Vermont home, even if it's just for the summer. We're talking about the people who live there year round, not because it's a great place to grow weed and live like a hippie, but because this is where they were born (or moved to, but usually from not too far away) and this is where they're gonna stay. Period. The real Vermonters. These people are white, straight, and if not practicing Christians, they were almost all raised in a Christian-derivative household. Open-minded, they are not.

First, I will illustrate with a few examples how vehemently opposed many Vermonters are to the idea of same-sex marriage. I was living in Vermont at the time this law we’re speaking about was enacted; this is how I have first-hand knowledge of the near-riots (for Vermont) this law caused. In the weeks before the law was voted upon, Vermont lawmakers took the time to travel around the state and hold public forums regarding the issue of same-sex civil unions. The mere fact that there were discussions being held on the subject were morally offensive to more people than I care to count. I was working at a small, local newspaper at the time and though we didn’t have a water cooler, the "water cooler discussions" got pretty heated. I actually overheard someone say, "Great! So now all the queers are gonna move up here! I guess it’s time to move down South where they’re smart and don’t put up with that shit." And a chorus of agreements were sounded to that remark. The man who actually made that comment, did indeed end up moving out of state. This is only one instance of a conversation I overheard. This was the only topic (other than that big 10-pointer that Billy Joe Bob Jones shot that year) of conversation for months at the local bars. The only thing I heard that came close to tolerance from a real Vermonter was "as long as I don’t have to see them, I guess it’s okay…but I know God sure don’t like it".

Then there were the signs that went up on people’s front lawns and in their driveways. Along Route 9, which traverses the entire width of the state at the southern-most tip, there were a multitude of signs put up; only one of them was terrible enough for me to vividly remember it. One man, obviously well-versed in the English language had a sign large enough to read as you sped past his house at 50 mph that said, oh-so-eloquently, "WE AIN’T GAY, OUR GOVMT IS". Another lovely, open-minded person had painted on the side of a very dilapidated house, in florescent pink HUMUNGOUS letters, "Go Home Queers + Gov. so-and-so". (It didn’t say Gov. so-and-so, I just can’t remember what the Governor’s name was)

So how did this law get passed if the vast majority of Vermonters were opposed to it? My theory is that all those Vermonters who were so against same-sex marriages just never actually voted. Why? First of all, (and I know I’m being vague here, but I admittedly don’t know the particulars about this law) if you’ve been to jail and/or have been convicted of a certain level of crime, you give up your privilege to vote. And let me tell you, I’ve never been anywhere else where I’d say 7 or 8 of every 10 local men I met up there has spent time in jail for one thing or another. Vermont is not the most law-abiding state in many ways. Another possible reason why they didn’t vote was due to the general lack of trust in government which exists there. Now, I know, people around the world distrust "the man", and I don’t blame them, but there is a serious lack of trust in just about everything that doesn’t affect a Vermonter directly and daily. This includes government, the medical profession, lawyers, anything computer or technology-related, and out-of-staters (or flatlanders, as the rest of us are known to them) to name a few. The people who did vote and did vocalize to the VT government that same-sex marriages are a fine idea are generally people who are not natives; people who moved to Vermont because it represents the ideal lifefreedom, space, and fresh air – and are now fighting hard against the locals to make the state be closer to what it’s image represents. (On a side note, tangentially related, all that crap about Vermont being environmentally conscious and "green" is a crock of bullshit – I’ll expound on that later)

Please be aware that I am making some fairly sweeping statements about Vermonters, as a whole, and as groups of natives and non-natives. As with any generalities, there are always exceptions to the rule, and this is of course one young woman’s perception and theory. I in no way mean to say that all Vermonters are this or that, but the vast majority that I have encountered (and I’ve traveled extensively through Vermont since I was born) do tend to fit these stereotypes to some degree. Sad, but true, at least from my perspective.

The moral of my story is twofold – one: Vermont (or Vermonters, rather) isn’t (aren’t) as liberal as you may think, and two: if you are involved in a relationship with a person of the same sex, and are considering moving to Vermont because of this law and because of the lifestyle it "advertises", I urge you to reconsider – you will not be met with many open arms, at least not outside of Burlington.

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