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The Vermont legislature is debating and is likely to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Both Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce have testified in support of this civil rights legislation and it enjoys wide-spread support from the business community in Vermont. Unfortunately, Governor Douglas has indicated that he will veto this legislation. I did have an opportunity to bend his ear a bit at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, but he told me he probably will not reconsider his veto promise.

It is unknown whether there will be sufficient votes in the Vermont House to override the expected veto but I am heading down to the State House to lobby again for this important legislation. Vermont was the first state to make slavery illegal, it was the first state to make civil unions legal and it is time to finish the job and provide our co-workers, neighbors, family and friends with the same rights of marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy.

This is clearly a workplace issue as we expect all of our employees to be able to exercise the same rights and privileges regardless of their sexual orientation. Our jobs are stressful enough without the added burden of less than full equality for all employees. This is why companies large and small have joined together to support this legislation and signing this statement:

The people of Vermont have long aspired to live together under fair laws that recognize our equality and common humanity.

As business leaders, we support the freedom to marry in Vermont. We understand that strong businesses thrive in strong communities. We know that our ability to recruit the most talented employees depends on our ability to attract them to a state with fair and inclusive laws. And we understand that Vermont’s national leadership in civil rights is an important part of who we are as a state.

Because marriage is a basic human right and an individual choice, we support full civil marriage for same-sex couples.

I am confident that the Vermont legislature will, in fact, pass this legislation and override the Governor’s veto. This human rights issue’s time has come and I expect that Vermont will once again establish itself as a leader in providing equal rights for all.

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