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Vermont
A Preview of America's War Over Same-Sex
Civil Marriage

Spurred on by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling decriminalizing gay
sexual conduct, both sides in the debate over gay rights are vowing an intense
state-by-state fight over deeply polarizing questions, foremost among them
whether gays should be allowed to marry.

New York Times, July 6, 20031

I KNEW something was wrong when the driver of the pickup truck behind me hit his high beams. It was night, and I was driving on a deserted two-lane road in Vermont. I was driving the speed limit. We were the only two vehicles on the road. The red Chevy, sporting a rifle rack, was occupied by two men, a driver and a front-seat passenger. I slowed to let the truck pass, but it rode my rear bumper, its high beams bathing my car in unwanted light for mile after mile. I was surprised. Most Vermont drivers aren't jerks.

Then I remembered the sticker I had scotch-taped to the rear window of my car. It was a sticker proclaiming my support for gay and lesbian marriage in Vermont. Somehow I knew that this was about my sticker. It was. Eventually, the truck, passed me and screeched off. As it did, the man in its passenger seat shouted to me, “You fucking faggot.” This incident occurred at the height of the Vermont controversy over same-sex marriage.

Certain issues always have ignited—and for the foreseeable future will continue to ignite—strong passions in our nation. Same-sex marriage is one of these. Like abortion and capital punishment, same-sex marriage sits on the cultural faultline of morality, religion, and law.

The campaign to allow gay and lesbian couples to share in the legal benefits, legal obligations, and legal responsibilities of marriage has had many different battlefields; this same-sex marriage war, as a historian

-1-

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