The Cost of Courage

Article excerpt

Support for Vermont's civil unions law costs five lawmakers their jobs

The civil unions law in Vermont has proved to be good news for gay and lesbian couples. It's also been bad news for Republicans who supported the measure. In the statewide primary held September 12, five months after the Vermont legislature passed the landmark bill awarding gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married ones, voters in the Green Mountain State got a chance to voice their opinion on the issue. It wasn't pretty. Close to a dozen state legislators who supported the historic measure were targeted by a conservative backlash campaign that called itself "Take Back Vermont." Five incumbent Republicans lost in their party's primary: state senator Peter Brownell and state representatives Robert Kinsey, John Edwards, William Fyfe, and Marion Milne. (One Democrat who opposed the bill, Forest Buckland, was also defeated.)

For Milne, the loss was particularly hard. Two years ago she swept her primary and earned the endorsement of both the Republican and Democratic parties. In this year's primary Milne earned just 18% of the vote, trailing far behind a former friend, Sylvia Kennedy, who won the Republican primary and a chance to face a Democratic opponent in November. Kennedy, who ran on a platform that stressed her anti-civil unions stance, criticized Milne for "voting her conscience" because civil unions, like all gay rights, she said, constitute "an immoral issue. …


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