Saturday, October 22, 2005

Vermont lawmakers urge Congress to grant gay couples federal benefits

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From the Washington Blade: Vt. lawmakers urge Congress to grant gay couples federal benefits Letter of support delivered to Hastert and Frist MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) | Oct 22, 5:09 PM Ninety-seven of Vermont's 150 lawmakers have signed a letter calling on Congress to make partners in civil unions eligible for federal programs like Social Security and military survivor benefits. "We urge you to extend the same federal statutory legal benefits and protections offered to married couples to those couples who have entered into a state-sanctioned civil union," said the letter from the Vermont legislators to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The letter was made public Thursday. Vermont became the first jurisdiction in the world to offer the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples when it enacted its civil union law in 2000. From the beginning, though, the state law has not applied to federal benefits for which spouses in a heterosexual marriage are eligible. Kevin Blier of the Center For American Cultural Renewal, which opposes gay marriage and civil unions, said what the letters signers are seeking would violate the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause because it would grant rights to a class of Vermonters not available to residents of states that don't recognize civil unions. "Vermont needs to be a responsible steward in our federal system and respect the public policy of other states," Blier said in a statement. "I ask, do Vermonters want Nevada's prostitution laws imposed on us?" To read the full article CLICK HERE