In Vermont, gay marriage debate keeping it civil

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Eight years after a not-so-civil war over civil unions, Vermont is now weighing whether to legalize gay marriage.

This time around, the debate is noticeably more tame.

It’s early: lawmakers say they’re unlikely to push for a vote this year on pending legislation that would legalize gay marriage. A state-appointed panel crisscrossing Vermont to gather public input is to report to the Legislature in April. And a new anti-gay marriage group plans forums of its own to emphasize the benefits of traditional man-woman marriage.

The absence of an impending vote may be what’s keeping things civil. But those involved have noticed a difference between then and now.

Beth Robinson, chairwoman of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, which supports gay marriage, says there’s a different tenor. She says Vermonters have had an opportunity to come to terms with civil unions.

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