I am now serving in my fifteenth year as bishop of Vermont, where for all those years the state of Vermont has made legal provision for the union of same-sex couples, first by civil union and now by way of marriage. My relationships with the people of Vermont have significantly shaped by understanding and convictions related to same-sex marriage. I rejoice in the decision made by the Supreme Court today that guarantees the right to same-sex marriage to all Americans. It is just and honest.
I especially want to recognize and congratulate two members of the Episcopal Church in Vermont who have been seminal to the movement that has brought us here. The Rev. Stannard Baker was the lead plaintiff in Baker vs. Vermont, the 1999 case in which the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the benefits and protections of marriage. Vermont was the first state to do so. I also want to recognize Tom Little, Esq., who was the chair of the judiciary committee that wrote the Vermont civil unions law in 2000. Later, Tom chaired the statewide Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection. The findings of this commission paved the way for civil unions to give way to full marriage equality in 2008.
I believe equality is a gospel value, a justice value, a missional value, and a pastoral value. Securing the right to marriage to all people is a practice consistent with the long-held values of civil equality held by the Episcopal Church. I celebrate today with all same-sex couples who are now granted this fundamental right.