3

Backlash Against Gays and Lesbians
A Despised Minority in Vermont

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he
placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his
arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he
separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

—Virginia trial court, Loving v. Virginia
(upholding state law banning interracial marriage), 19671

THIS CHAPTER provides samples of the homophobic reaction of many Vermonters to the Baker decision. It provides neither a full catalog nor a complete history of the reaction to Baker. Much of that reaction was positive and supportive of the court and the civil rights of gay people, but I focus on this strongly homophobic response to Baker—as expressed in public hearings, letters to the editor, and the results of Town Meeting Day 2000—because it had a direct impact on the legislature's response to Baker.


THE LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS

In response to Baker, the Vermont House Judiciary Committee held hearings and heard from expert witnesses including a historian of marriage, family law practitioners, and professors of constitutional law and family law.2 Opponents of Baker urged the legislature to begin the process of amending the constitution to, in effect, overrule Baker. Thomas McCormick described the Baker ruling “as inconsistent with the will of most Vermonters.”3 Hal Goldman, of a group called Take It to the People, “delivered the most stinging attack on the court.… [He] accused the court of usurping the power of the legislature, overturning longstanding legal precedent and creating ambiguous legal standards for the future that would have far-reaching negative effects.”4 Goldman said Baker “had no legal validity, and he urged the legislature to simply

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