Implementing Same-Sex Marriage - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Implementing Same-Sex Marriage

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Rep. Bill Lippert Rep. Bill Lippert
Michael & Jace Sheppard Michael & Jace Sheppard

Montpelier, Vermont - April 7, 2009

Proponents call it a day more than ten years in the making - the day Vermont lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage - but even after ten years, the state needs a bit more time to make the law a reality. Senate bill 115 does not take effect until the first day of September.

"Well actually I think it was first put at September first because of some initial concerns the Department of Health had in terms of implementation," explains Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg.

The state will have five months to prepare new marriage license applications, which will now offer applicants the choice of being the choice of bride, groom, or spouse.

"Really most of the rest of the application will be very familiar to anyone who's seen a marriage license in Vermont," says Lippert.

The license may look familiar, but for soon-to-be-wed couples, the process is not. Michael and Jace Sheppard were joined in a civil union last summer. Now they want to get married and have some questions.

"Yeah I guess, what's the first step?" wonders Michael. "I would imagine there's an application involved."

"Yeah we know we have to get a new license and register for a new license but I'm not familiar whether or not it automatically transfers for the civil union, I'm pretty sure it doesn't," adds Jace.

Couples with civil unions will not automatically be married once the new law takes effect, nor do they have to get married. Those who want a marriage will have to apply for a license with their Town Clerk and have a ceremony. They do not have to dissolve their civil union, but Rep. Lippert says some may choose to.

"This would be to clarify their legal status," he says.

It may seem like a daunting process, but the Sheppards say it is well worth it.

"Now we're going to have to pay for a lawyer and go through all the B.S. just to get that dissolved, that sort of annoys me," says Jace. "But I would pay twice, whatever it takes to get the marriage license knowing that it's going to the state of Vermont that supported us, and to finally have it done between the two of us."

After September first same-sex couples will be allowed to get married, but they can no longer get civil unions. However, the state will still recognized civil unions that have already been performed.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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