SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. -- Gay marriage activists say they are not satisfied with the civil union law, which they described at a Vermont Law School conference last week as second-class matrimony.
At the daylong meeting Thursday, titled ''Got Marriage?," lawyers, activists, legislators, and legal scholars said the state's 2000 civil unions law doesn't go far enough.
''We've got work left to do," said Beth Robinson, a Middlebury lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in Baker v. Vermont, the case that led to the Vermont Supreme Court ruling setting the stage for civil unions.
Michael Mello, a professor at the law school and author of the new book ''Legalizing Gay Marriage," said the civil unions route is the ''separate but equal" approach to gay marriage rights. Mello said the unions wouldn't pass civil rights muster.
An amendment to the US Constitution, which would essentially ban gay marriage or civil unions, would never be endorsed by the US Senate, conference participants agreed. But the companion movement, with individual states adopting ''Defense of Marriage" acts, is a dangerous attack on gay rights, panelists said. Such measures, which are on the ballot in several key states this November, could bring large numbers of fundamentalist Christians to the polls, affecting the outcome of the presidential race in close states such as Oregon.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon