1. Rick says

    The fact that so many situations and incidents of this sort occur in supposedly “gay-friendly” states just underscores how shallow the political victories in those states really are….and that, cultural change–the kind that really matters in the long run–has only been marginally greater in such areas as it has been in more conservative areas in the Heartland.

    Just this past week, we have seen stories of beatings in Minnesota and New York City….and this story from Vermont….at the same time that we see Kentucky’s AG refusing to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and towns in Mississippi passing pro-gay ordinances.

    Laws are ultimately worthless to us, absent cultural change.

  2. Rick says

    You are missing the point, Mark. They would not need to seek redress if their neighbors in oh-so-enlightened Vermont had actually changed their attitudes at the personal level (as opposed to voting “the right way”).

    I don’t doubt for a minute that if you questioned most of the people in this community, they would say all the right things when it comes to “gay rights”–but they still despise gay people on a personal level.

    And what have you really gained if you win a lawsuit if your neighbors still hate you?

    Nothing, really. That is the point.

  3. says

    Leap in logic, Rick, as usual. Alleged incidents from one couple have no particularly larger implications other than that they may have lousy, possibly homophobic neighbors. On the other hand, it’s very well established that gay-favorable laws make for gay-favorable environments and vice versa. (Though, for those who aren’t out, gay-favorable laws are only indirectly beneficial–the closeted can, in fact, feel threatened by being left behind.)

    I live a short distance away from this couple. I’ve never heard of them and have no idea whether their lawsuit has merit. But it doesn’t reflect my experience as an out gay person in an out gay couple in VT at all. We feel welcomed everywhere and very supported by our state and our neighbors alike.

    Of course there are homophobes–and bad neighbors–in VT, as there are anywhere else, but the broad forms of harassment and discrimination they’re describing seem very out of character for my neck of the woods.

  4. says

    The head of the Select Board is apparently also a Baptist pastor of a church who believes in the “unchanging truths from the Bible”–a rarity in VT, thats for sure–so the plot thickens, and the potential for animosity suddenly makes more sense. Some people are beyond changes of attitude no matter where they live.

    Oh, poor isolated Rick, if you can’t understand the real benefits of pro-gay laws and a pro-gay justice system, then you really can’t understand anything.

  5. JJ says

    @Rick, you start with an obvious sampling bias, compound it with confirmation bias, and then make a faulty generalization, all in the service of your usual motivated reasoning. No one’s missing your point, we just recognize your point as irrational.

  6. Zlick says

    Well, RICK is marginally right in that racism did not comes to an end with the passage of civil rights laws in the 1960’s. Legal change is vital, and cultural change is also very, very important. The cultural change is much slower, but it’s absolutely -and in the long run – helped along by progress in the law.

  7. Jerry says

    Once you go behind the curtains in these little communities, you very often get a very different picture. In the decades my partner and I have lived in Pennsylvania, we have had a dead rat put at our door, have found other dead animals that seemed to have been placed for effect. And we wonder if the Goats leg we found in our yard recently, might be related to our neighbors who are into witchcraft. But then trying to comprendh that the police for some reason will not investigate the entry and exit bullet hole in our property etc is scary. Why the township government won’t respond to e-mails as to the road work that was done on neighboring private property using Township trucks, that to us could be to buy silence.
    I am sure that other’s can chime in that their neighbor’s bake them cookies and for some reason we have created and cause our circumstances.
    This Law Suit appears to be an interesting way to force people to play their hand. We aren’t there yet because you think you are.

    I wish them well.

  8. David says

    This is whole story is obviously a fabrication, a red herring trumped up by southerners hoping to shift blame for the hatred and intolerance that can only exist south of the Mason-Dixon line.

  9. Paul R says

    I hate and have criticized comments that call into question claims of discrimination. So I honestly hope that these women have documented every possible iota of evidence to support their claims.

    That said, I’m not sure how the township would benefit much by the increase in their home’s value. Even if their property taxes are pegged to the original cost of the place—meaning, the town could be getting more if someone else moved in and paid taxes at the current market value, in addition to the real estate transfer tax—it wouldn’t be a massive boon to local revenue. A doubling in value over 10 years is hardly rare for a lakefront property. And for a highly desirable property, a tripling isn’t surprising, especially if they’ve made improvements.

  10. woody says

    I love Vermont. My favorite state.
    But there’s a sizable minority of gun-toting hillbilly-pride types in Vermont that just can’t stand the fact that their state is considered a verdant, progressive, environmentally conscious, liberal place.
    Still, they’re in the minority. I love crossing the Vermont line from Massachusettes on 91. All the billboards disappear and you can see what a really beautiful place looks like if you don’t turn it commercial. And they’ve got Bernie Sanders. Love Vermont!

  11. says

    As Ernie said, the head of the select board is a Baptist pastor. Though I’ve never met the Barbaras, several friends have, and have heard about their issues for years. Woody’s right, too. The “Take back Vermont” folks have lost the war, and it makes them mad as Hell. The select board guy is a known conservative, according to friends.

  12. Jere says

    Good for you Barbara’s! Sue the piss out of them. A law suit is the only thing to force them into the spotlight. Ten years is long enough to be picked on and singled out with unfair treatment. They act like little children trying to see how much they can get away with. Now it’s time out!

  13. Corey Mondello says

    I wonder why people always accuse me of blaming conservative Christians for all the pain of minorities…? No surprise to see the word “pastor”, and the actions taken against the minority aimed at never changes: dead animals, not telling them when meeting are they are supposed to be at and if not they lose whatever it is they are trying to do, vandalism, verbal assault, damage to property, damage to character and reputation….,etc KKK-types did and still do this to blacks, Hitler did it to the Jews, Puritans did it to the Quakers, etc… All with the help of their bible. There’s should be no surprise in people’s mind as to why I believe what I do and why I always try to state “Conservatives” are to blame, meaning conservative politicians which are usually conservative Christians, there is no escaping what they are. They are scum and only harm, have never do anything good for anyone but their own kind. That cannot be said about any or all other groups of people, at least in the USA. The real pity is, more Christians don’t come out against the pigs that give their religion a bad name, most just say: “Oh, but they aren’t “real” Christians” and I say, does it matter? People died in the name of their religion, and people are turning away from their religion because so many of the most vocal and powerful use their power to actually harm, abuse, oppress, and murder others. I would think their number one goal would be to stop those who taint their religion. But I think they are afraid of being told they are not real Christians themselves, but still, people will suffer and die because of their religion,

  14. says

    @Corey, the difference in Vermont (and all of New England, really) is that conservative Christians are a very tiny minority, one with little clout or power in the state. The Select Board Chair happens to be one of the few. (Whether he was trying to wield the small power he has against the Barbs in retaliation for VT’s gay-friendly environment is yet to be determined.) Overall, however, the faith community in VT provided critical support for marriage equality, and the Pride parades always include a large faith contingent.

  15. Erica Cook says

    Yep, good strong Christian values. Hate anyone different. Do everything possible to hurt those who don’t fit in. Sounds like The Christianity I’ve known and learned to fight against.

  16. chris wolfe says

    I understand the sentiment “Laws are ultimately worthless to us, absent cultural change,” but I disagree. I recently had to move out of Lincoln, Nebraska over the issue of having no laws in place to insure my civil rights are respected. A neighbor found out I was gay and proceeded to threaten to kill me, left nasty messages on my door, banging on the walls night and day, etc. Now, that an idiot neighbor does something like this is one thing but it was reporting the behavior to the police that made me aware of how serious the “lack of laws” issue can be. When I called the police and told the officer (WITH a witness standing right there verifying what had been happening) about the threats of violence and an attempt to throw me down a flight of stairs, he snickered and said, “Prove it.” According to him one witness wasn’t enough AND threatening my life…So what? He also informed me that IF the Lincoln police followed up on every threat of violence against some ..person like myself (i.e. queer) that came their way, they’d do nothing but file paperwork night and day. The conversation ended after he absolutely refused to write an incident report. I got very quiet, thanked the jerk for his time and went inside and looked up laws for LGBT people in NE. I already knew there were no anti-discrimination laws but I wanted to see if I could find anything to help me with this situation. I found nothing. BTW, my neighbor, a straight woman who moved to NE from San Francisco was aghast. She kept saying, “HE CAN’T DO THAT… Can he??? OMG CAN HE??” In the end it turned out I had no legal recourse. Yeah, I could complain but for what? Nebraska has a long and rich history of gay oppression and it’s not changing any time soon. I had to spend thousands of dollars I didn’t have to get the hell out of the state. I could only afford to move one state over (Iowa). Are the attitudes here much different? Probably not but the LAWS ARE. Iowa has a long and rich history of NOT tolerating hate. Anti-LGBT laws are in place, gay marriage is legal, etc. IF the same exact thing happens here that happened back in Lincoln, NE., I DO HAVE LEGAL recourse. If some cop (or any state official) speaks to me like I’m trash because I’m lesbian, I can at least lodge a complaint and if it continues, I can have my day in court. So, yes, I agree that without cultural change this kind of thing will continue but having LAWS that insure our rights as human beings is respected is very important and a definitive starting place.

  17. martyo says

    sometimes there are not two sides,,,,one side is narrowminded and that is that, they could kiss their asses for eternity and still get no positive response from these bible thumpers.

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