by Peter Freyne
How’s everybody doing out there?
Sum-sum-summertime. Yours truly was enjoying big bad Burlington this Saturday. And the town, er, the city was jumping. From African refugees to French Canadian tourists to the usual suspects including politicians. And we finally ran into someone feeling upbeat about the Democrats who run the Statehouse appointing a “gay marriage” study commission.
And that someone is freshman State Rep. Rachel Weston (D-Burlington), pictured on the left with boyfriend Nels in the middle and sister Erica Weston, a pre-med student visiting from Cambridge, Mass. on the right. Rep. Weston provides a fresh, upbeat perspective on the issue. Her district includes downtown and a chunk of the Old North End.
Weston was born in Hampden, Massachusetts in 1981, almost four months after Bernie Sanders was sworn in as Mayor of Burlington. She picked up her BA in anthropology in 2003 at U. Mass. Amherst and a Masters in Public Administration at UVM in 2006.
Bumped into her at the Farmers' Market in City Hall Park. Asked if she had gotten a heads-up from the Democratic leadership about Wednesday’s announcement of a Shumlin/Symington-appointed "Blue-Ribbon Commission" to hold public hearings on gay marriage, the lawmaker said she had not. Still, Rep. Weston is clearly an enthusiastic supporter of gay-marriage legislation.
“I think it’s great,” said the freshman in the House. “I think a majority of Vermonters support this,” she said. The Burlington rep called changing/dropping the state’s civil-union statute and granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples “doing the right thing.”
Under the current, landmark Vermont civil unions law adopted in 2000, said Rep. Weston, same-sex couples who have civil unions "do not have full marriage rights.”
CHAPTER 23. CIVIL UNIONS
§ 1204. Benefits, protections and responsibilities of parties to a civil union
(a) Parties to a civil union shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage.
(b) A party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of the terms "spouse," "family," "immediate family," "dependent," "next of kin," and other terms that denote the spousal relationship, as those terms are used throughout the law.
(c) Parties to a civil union shall be responsible for the support of one another to the same degree and in the same manner as prescribed under law for married persons.
(d) The law of domestic relations, including annulment, separation and divorce, child custody and support, and property division and maintenance shall apply to parties to a civil union.
Check out the entire statute here.