Ernie's reading of the hearing Jan. 25 at the VT statehouse:

Here's my *unofficial* tally from the hearings this week. At first--in keeping with the stated purpose of the hearing--I was dividing into those who support extending marriage benefits to include same-sex couples, those who support "parallel" domestic partnership benefits, and those who oppose both of these "solutions" to the court's mandate. However, it soon became apparent that the speakers were either coming out for same-sex marriage or against it, so that's how I finally broke it down.

If I counted correctly, there were 51 speakers in support of same-sex marriage, and 47 opposed to it. A handful of people (7+/-) mentioned "domestic partnerships" as a possible solution, though several of these were more in favor of civil domestic partnerships for all rather than the "different but equal" proposals the governor and some legislators have in mind.

It's interesting that most people--particularly those on the other side--who spoke weren't really offering advice to the Judiciary committee but simply airing their views for or against homosexuality. I guess that's to be expected in a forum of this kind. I was certainly pleased that most of the speakers favoring same-sex marriage were eloquent, whereas most of those favoring a referendum or constitutional amendment were not. Tho the constitutional amendment idea hasn't much practical chance of succeeding, it's scary nonetheless, don't you think? The opponents are obviously trying to build momentum in that direction--destructive in itself.

What I found most interesting was that the "domestic partnership" idea that the governor jumped on and still supports was not wholeheartedly endorsed by a single person at the hearings--which kind of implies that if that's what goes forth it will be to "satisfy" the passive middle, i.e. those not interested enough to attend a public forum on the issue.

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