Vermont Same Sex Marriage and Obama’s Legacy

With the passage of full marriage equality for same-sex couples in Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut and Massachusetts, history has chosen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights to be the defining American struggle for equality and civil rights during Barack Obama’s Presidency. President Obama has left little doubt that his role models are Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Both of who have a legacy as courageous civil rights figures. Although racial discrimination still exists, most of the major legal and legislative battles for racial equality have already been fought. LGBT equality may be the civil rights issue that defines Obama’s historical legacy.


Monday morning, I called Vermont State Representative Cynthia Browning of Arlington at home and asked her to vote with the Vermont Democratic Party and support an override of Governor Jim Douglas’s expected veto of the same sex marriage equality bill. During out warm and friendly chat Rep. Browning implied that she was the real loyal Democrat because unlike the Vermont Democratic Party, it is she who is supporting President Obama’s exact position on same sex marriage.


I thanked Browning for taking my call and told her that I am gay. I explained that I love my straight sister and would never support anything that might harm her marriage or endanger my nieces and nephew’s family. However this law has nothing to do with her marriage or any straight marriages. It has everything to do with my life. I pay just as much into my pension as my straight co-workers but my partner would not be entitled to an equal benefit as an opposite sex spouse would.


Browning said she supports LGBT equality including civil unions but opposes same sex marriage. I then pleaded with her not to change her personal belief but to stand with the Vermont Democratic Party.


Browning rebutted she shares “the exact same position as President Barack Obama that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman.” I paused and thought about what she said. Was she suggesting that she is the more loyal Democrat and it is the Vermont Democratic Party that is rogue? As more state legislators vote on marriage will other cowardly Democrats use “The Obama Excuse” to vote against equality?



For the past 10 years of the same sex marriage debate, opponents usually reason that they are supporting the biblical definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. During the debate leading up to the Vermont Legislature’s override of Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto the new excuse is “supporting President Barack Obama’s definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. This is not to suggest that Pres. Obama has now achieved the stature of Jesus, Saint Paul, Moses or any other religious figure. However as a sitting Democratic President is the de facto head of the Democratic Party, Obama does become it’s political and spiritual leader.



President Obama, the leader of the American Democratic Party claims he supports “full equality” for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people through civil unions and not marriage. This gives cover to the less courageous state democrats. Thereby making it harder for State Democratic Parties that support full marriage equality to corral the votes needed to pass same sex marriage legislation


President Obama has tried to emulate his role models, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Both Presidents were confronted with a nation deeply divided on racial civil rights. Both had the courage and moral certainty to bravely stand up for equality against conventional political wisdom. Same sex marriage and LGBT equality is the civil rights issue that history has thrust upon the steps of this White House. Certainly the barriers broken in his election destine Obama’s place in Black History. However if he also wants his Presidential legacy of leadership to be of the same stature of Lincoln and Kennedy, full LGBT equality including same sex marriage is the courageous issue of our time.


Now is the time for President Obama to step forward. Now is the time for the LGBT community to push President Obama forward. In 2009 so many Democrats are emulating Barack Obama’s campaign posters, slogans and ideas. Barack Obama is not just the leader of the Democratic Party but a role model for not only Democrats but also all Americans. When Obama keeps his promise to fully repeal DOMA will he ask the Federal Government to recognize same sex marriage only, raising the bar and pushing other states to expand civil rights, will the self proclaimed “most pro-LGBT President in history” lower the bar by federally recognizing both marriages and civil unions? Though progressive on the surface the latter gives states cover to legislate “separate but equal” and claim they are just loyal Obama Democrats. More importantly during the primary Barack Obama left room for his position of same sex marriage to evolve.


Now is the time for courage and leadership. Let’s all ask President Barack Obama what he wants his historical legacy to be.



2 Responses to “Vermont Same Sex Marriage and Obama’s Legacy”

  1. […] that really made us angry.  We’ll call it The Obama Defense.  Time and again, callers reported back to us that Democratic office holders who espoused an opposition to gay marriage and a support […]

  2. […] something rather disturbing.  We’ll call it The Obama Defense.  Time and again, callers reported back to us that Democratic office holders who espoused an opposition to gay marriage and a support […]

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