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David Moats


Civil Wars

In this gripping piece of journalistic history, Moats chronicles the battle over gay marriage in Vermont, which culminated in 2000 with the first state law allowing gay civil unions. Moats, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials in the Rutland Chronicle supporting the law, brings a balanced perspective and an urgency to the judicial and legislative drama, which registers on a personal scale. His goal is to answer the following question, which he poses in the prologue: "How did such a thing happen in Vermont?"


The result is a local history that remains an important contribution to the history of civil rights in the United States. Vermont itself is the hero of this book, and Moats provides a deft and believable account of how this small state - the first in the union to abolish slavery - became fertile ground for a grassroots, antihomophobic political movement.


In perhaps the most moving section, Moats lets the citizens of Vermont speak for themselves. On January 25, 2000, the state legislature heard public testimony from their constituents, and Moats simply and elegantly presents some of the comments. One woman, who timidly announces that she is in a "committed, loving relationship" with another woman, relates an anecdote about her son: "Not long ago, my youngest, who's now eleven, would ask me when we, his parents, would be getting married.... He has now been exposed to the fear and hatred of the world around him and no longer asks this question. I want my children to have the respect they deserve, to have parents that are married and can fully provide for them." Moats's account emerges as essential reading for Americans on both sides of the partisan aisle.








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