Among its 2002 findings is the impact on couples that have entered into civil unions:
The benefits of civil union for the witnesses included both legal and societal benefits. More than one couple was faced with the hospitalization of a partner. These couples were able to tell the hospital they were civil union partners, and they were consequently treated to the same rights and benefits as spouses regarding the ability to provide and receive medical information, medical decision-making and hospital visitation. Other couples testified that their insurance rates had dropped. Apparently, many insurance companies now view civil union status as a signal of stability in the same way they do marriage, and drop rates for couples in a civil union. Jacqueline Hughes, General Counsel for BISHCA, confirmed this practice. One couple discussed the security of being able to own their shared home as tenants by the entirety, as married couples do. They were not able to do this prior to civil unions, and would have been required to pay a significant property transfer tax (.05% of first $100,000 in value; 1.25% of value above $100,000) to put the home in both partners’ names.
All couples testified as to the stability afforded by the relationship, from the ability to form a lasting commitment recognized not only by the state, but by family, co-workers, friends and the community. Much in the same way that people view girlfriends and boyfriends differently from husbands and wives, the couples testified that establishing a civil union signaled the seriousness and permanency of their relationship. Some of the couples testified that they were treated differently by others once they became civil union partners, and that people were more accepting of them as life partners. Some said their civil union created a greater sense of security in the relationship, and they have closer connection and bond.
Some of the couples have children through birth, adoption or foster care. Under Act 91, a party to a civil union legally becomes the stepparent to his or her partner’s children if the party has not already adopted the children. These parents feel that the legal legitimacy of their relationship has a substantial impact on their children. It validates their relationship and eases their child’s concerns about public acceptance of their family. Young children especially are assured of the legitimacy of their parents’ relationship, which makes it easier for them at school and provides them with peace of mind. Recognition of both partners as legal parents also facilitates contact and communication with the school system.
The commission also sought general public comment:
A period for general public comment was scheduled during the Commission meetings held in February, September and October 2001. The commission agenda was published on the General Assembly website, and notice of the public comment period was sent to a variety of Vermont media outlets around the state. One person testified at the February meeting to note an error in the Department of Health statistical tables (this had already been addressed by the Commission). No one appeared to testify at either the September or October meetings.
Where are the people testifying to how these civil unions have destroyed the sacredness of their own marriages? Where is the testimony regarding the irreparable harm to marriage. Could it be that allowing gay couples to enter committed relationships recognized by the state has in fact no effect on heterosexual couples?