Letter from Vermont

Same-sex marriage a slippery ski slope?

Lymetick,VT, March 2009

Vermont may be best known as the state where there are nine months of winter and three months of bad skiing, but soon we may be able to add another notch in our beaver pelt. The bill the Vermont Senate passed overwhelmingly this week to legalize same-sex marriage may just be the next step in the Legislature’s overall goal of legalizing civil unions among non-human entities.

According to my source, who operates a hemp farm and woodchuck petting zoo alongside Route 7 near Rutland, a bill will be introduced in the state legislature during its next term. The bill will greatly expand the meaning of civil unions to ultimately include unions of inanimate objects, such as farm implements. I’m hoping the debate will draw heavy fire from everyone who’s got any common sense left in this so-called Liberal Paradise.

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The bill’s sponsor, who I won’t dignify by name, and who defined himself during his election campaign as one of President-elect Barack Obama’s “embittered, gun-toting religious nuts,” nevertheless claimed his bill would bring justice to an important but often overlooked segment of the farming community.

“A civil union between, say a combine and a tiller, a hay wagon and a manure spreader or even a simple marriage of ax and rake, would allow these vital implements of agriculture to become eligible for such entitlements as Social Security benefits when the tool or equipment’s useful life is over, as well as provide insurance and survivor benefits to the farmer should that tool or piece of equipment break down.”

The sponsor went on to spew that his civil union bill would help more fairly adjudicate legacy issues that currently surface when, for instance, a farmer chooses to get even with family members by leaving everything to his tractor. (Under current law, probate may only “consider” the farmer’s bequest to his tractor under Vermont’s version of the “sound mind” doctrine.)

“Currently Vermont law discriminates against one of our country’s most important constituencies [agricultural subsidies], and for the life of me, I can’t figure how Vermonters could have missed this one,” Vernon Earflap said. (Oops, I revealed the idiot’s name anyway. My bad.)

One of the bill’s (hopefully) legions of opponents told me off the record that in spite of the state’s reputation for social and political loopiness, this one is “so far off the reservation, the sponsors probably qualify for AIG bonuses.”

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“Minimum wage protections for migrating waterfowl or universal healthcare for brown trout is one thing,” said the opponent, who had no objection to being identified, but I don’t care. “But no Vermonter is prepared to go this far down the road to lunacy, even during a full moon.”

Oh yeah? According to one passerby I stopped in front of the Starbuck’s (not the one next to the Roller Blade repair shop, but the one two doors down next to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor and Snowcat Sales showroom): “You know I never thought of anything like that before, but like we say here, ‘It’s about as free from brains as a frog from feathers.’”

(Ed. Note: Burdock Norwood’s “Letter from Vermont” is published sporadically through the year, usually following a three-day blizzard or a nine-day bender.)


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