Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blue America Welcomes Rep. David Zuckerman, Lead Author Of Vermont's Same Sex Marriage Bill


Rep. David Zuckerman, American hero

A same sex marriage bill easily passed the lower House of the Hawaiian legislature last month. The vote was 33-17. But then it got stuck in a procedural mess in a Senate committee and, despite overwhelming support in the Senate, and a clear path to solve the problem, the Senate's Democratic leader, Colleen Hanabusa, a gubernatorial hopeful, purposefully let it die. Something similar could have easily happened in Vermont last week. But it didn't. Instead, both houses of the Vermont legislature overrode the veto of Republican governor Jim Douglas and that state became the 4th state to pass a same sex marriage bill. Today let's spend some time getting to know one of the legislators behind that hard-fought victory-- that most people said was impossible-- Representative David Zuckerman, a member of Vermont's Progressive Party.

David was one of the 2 Progressives in 2000 who co-introduced marriage legislation (H.0694) with 4 Democrats when the Vermont Supreme Court ruled (Dec. 1999) that Vermont had to extend equal rights to the gay and lesbian community. When Civil Unions was debated on the House floor David was one of 22 who voted for the marriage amendment to grant full equality. David has been introducing marriage legislation and has worked with advocates to build support for equality legislation since that time. He was the lead author of the bill that passed this week.
As the last person in the alphabet, David is proud to have cast the 100th vote to override the Governors veto of the equality legislation.
David Zuckerman and his partner Rachel Nevitt (along with their 3 year old daughter Addie) own and operate Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg.  It's a 150 acre farm with 20 acres of vegetables marketed through their CSA with 300 shares. They also sell their produce at the Burlington Farmers Market. He was first elected in 1996 and has been serving Vermonters for 13 years from Burlington District 3-4.  He served for six of those years on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee and six years on the Agriculture Committee. From 2005-2008 he was Chair of the Agriculture Committee. This biennium he was promoted to the Ways and Means Committee to work on Vermont tax policy. He's best known for his dogged advocacy of sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy policy, livable wages, marriage equality, progressive taxation, election reform, and end of life choices. Does he sound like the perfect Blue America candidate or what?

Uh... he's not a Democrat. Rep. Zuckerman, who I met because he's a member of People For the American Way's Young Elected Officials program, is a member of Vermont's 28 year old Progressive Party, born out of Bernie Sanders' mayoral victory in Burlington in 1981 (by 10 votes). During Bernie's tenure as Mayor the progressive coalition formed to promote issues of affordable housing, open government, efficient services, and economic justice (among other progressive issues). In the 1990's the coalition moved to become an official party. With the election of Dean Corren and Terrill Bouricius to the legislature in the late 1980's the coalition began to have an impact on state policy. Rising to a peak of 6 legislators in the 2006 elections, the Progressive caucus has grown and expanded from its initial hold in Burlington to districts in over 8 counties (of 14). Progressives have been leaders on election reform measures, livable wages, affordable housing, environmental protection, sustainable energy, equal rights for all, sustainable agriculture, anti-war legislation, and other progressive issues.

Neither David nor the Progressive Party is eligible for help from ActBlue, which is strictly for members of the Democratic Party. A right wing sociopath like David Boren (D-OK), who's every waking moment is about defeating Barack Obama's agenda, is eligible, but the elected officials like David Zuckerman, whose values are what ActBlue and Blue America are all about, aren't. Anyway, please join us in the FDL comments section for a free-ranging discussion with an outstanding young leader. And, if you're so moved, please consider making a contribution to the Vermont Progressive Party at their website.

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