Vermont Hub

Senator Bernie Sanders To Announce Presidential Candidacy On Thursday

Senator Bernie Sanders (I- VT), the longest-serving independent in congressional history, is going to announce his run for the U.S. presidency on Thursday, proving that when someone says they're 99% sure they're not going to do something, that 1% can still happen. The self-described democratic socialist will be directly competing with Hillary Clinton by running as a Democrat on the ballot, though registration rules in Vermont will not require him to officially change parties.

SandersSanders has been quite vocal in his defenses of lower and middle class Americans, and a year ago in an interview with Time he expressed his doubts that Clinton would be a candidate that would bring about the political revolutions needed for the working class:

I like Hillary. I knew her when I was in the House and she was First Lady, and obviously I knew her when she and I served together in the Senate. So I like her. She’s a very, very intelligent person, no question about it. But I think, you know, if you talk about the need for a political revolution in America, I think it’s fair to say that Secretary Clinton probably will not be one of the more active people.

More recently, in an interview with Bloomberg Sanders reaffirmed his doubts:

Is Hillary Clinton, are other candidates, prepared to take on the billionaire class? Based on her record, I don't think so.

So far the political landscape appeared to be shaping up as Clinton versus a veritable clown car of right-wing wackjobs, thus effectively guaranteeing Clinton a victory. With Sanders entering the race, the waters are bound to get much muddier: Clinton has experience in the White House already, and following up the first black president with the first female president would be quite the flourish in the country's march towards greater equality, but continuing a dynasty of (primarily) two families warring over the presidency is something that gives many pause; meanwhile, Sanders is one of the most truly and fiercely progressive voices in American politics and has political experience a mile long, but his relative lack of presence with the general public and his advanced age are two things that could be leveraged against him.

Pop some popcorn; things are about to get interesting.

Vermont Artist Wins 3-Year Battle Against Chick-Fil-A for 'Eat More Kale' Trademark: VIDEO


In 2011 Chick-Fil-A sent a cease and desist order to Bo Muller Moore claiming that the Vermont artist's "Eat More Kale" t-shirts, created to promote local agriculture, infringed upon Chick-Fil-A's slogan "Eat Mor Chikin".

During the David-and-Goliath-esque battle that ensued, Chick-Fil-A's lawyers barraged Muller-Moore with 30 examples of other companies which had faced similar claims against the anti-gay chicken giant, and had turned tail and ran, according to the AP.

Muller-Moore persisted and with the help of social media was soon joined by a number of volunteer lawyers who helped with the litigation. State officials also stood by the artist.

On Friday, outside the Vermont statehouse, Muller-Moore announced that the U.S. Patent Office had granted his application, though he had no idea of the specifics on the decision.

"I'd like to think that maybe some persistence and polite defiance, you know, and proving to them that we were in it for the long haul," he said. "If it took us a decade, we're going to fight for a decade."

Watch a recent documentary clip on Muller-Moore and his battle from Stuck in Vermont,

And buy an 'Eat More Kale' t-shirt here.

Continue reading "Vermont Artist Wins 3-Year Battle Against Chick-Fil-A for 'Eat More Kale' Trademark: VIDEO" »

Lesbian Couple Suing Vermont Town For Trying to Drive Them Out: VIDEO

Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno

Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno have been together for 21 years and have lived at their lakefront property in Addison, Vermont for 10. However, residents of the town have never fully welcomed the Barbaras, many of them instead treating them with outright hostility, including insults, obscene gestures, and even dead animals left on the property. 

In addition, the couple believes that the town leadership tried to push them out via a variety of measures, including a town clerk refusing to file a mandatory application for the handicap ramp Supeno put in for her mother; failing to notify the couple of zoning meetings regarding their property; and a refusal to respond to filed grievances by the couple. It should be noted that the value of their property has more than tripled since they moved in.

To top it all off they've been the victims of anonymous bullies who would circulate false letters claiming the women were scam artists, and homophobic slurs spray painted outside the town offices.

Ernst and Supeno responded to the continued harassment with a lawsuit. In the lawsuit the complaints being named are defamation, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with prospective business relations, sexual orientation discrimination, common law retaliation and violations of common benefits clause. The defendant named for the suit is board chair Jeff Kaufmann, who is Addison’s zoning and planning administrator and, notably, is a Baptist minister.

Watch WPTZ's news report on the couple, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Couple Suing Vermont Town For Trying to Drive Them Out: VIDEO" »

For Immigration Purposes, Validity of Same-Sex Marriages Likely to Be Based On Where Couples Were Married

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 11.46.09 AM

Last week, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the highest administrative body in the Department of Justice that considers immigration matters, ruled in a pending case that same-sex couples' marriages should be viewed in light of where the couple was married (the so-called 'place of celebration rule') rather than the state in which the couple lives (the 'place of domicile rule'). The decision, which will likely hold sway in future cases, brings some clarity to the confusing issue of how and when the federal government will recognize same-sex marriage licenses as valid.

The BIA ruling follows an announcement in late June by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said her office would opt for the 'place of celebration rule,'--a decision which diverged from previous practices based on where a couple lived but which would have held no sway outside her department. Writing on his blog Art Leonard Observations, New York Law School Professor Arthur Leonard explains the details behind the new decision:

Serge Polajenko, a U.S. citizen, filed a Petition for Alien Relative, called an I-130, on March 10, 2010, on behalf of his husband, Oleg Zeleniak, after the men were married in Vermont. The petition was denied on July 27, 2010, on the ground that DOMA, Section 3, barred immigration authorities from recognizing same-sex marriages. Polajenko appealed to the BIA, which issued a decision on April 18, 2012, sending the case back to the National Benefits Center Director to address two issues: first, whether the Polajenko-Zeleniak marriage was valid under state law, and second, whether the marriage qualifies as bona fide as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The questions posed by BIA are two distinctly separate issues, arising under two different bodies of law. The second concerns the requirement that a marriage be “bona fide,” not a marriage of convenience entered for the purpose of getting a “green card” (authorization to live and work in the United States), but rather a “real marriage” of parties intending to live as spouses.

In its decision, the BIA held that the Supreme Court's ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case U.S. v. Windsor "removed Section 3 of the DOMA as an impediment to the recognition of lawful same-sex marriages and spouses if the marriage is valid under the laws of the State where it was celebrated." The BIA remanded the case to the National Benefits Center Director to determine whether the marriage was indeed bona fide.

ArtLeonardAs Leonard points out, the BIA's ruling in the Zeleniak case now stands as precedent establishing the 'place of celebration rule' as the proper standard to use in immigration proceedings. "Although the BIA did not address the issue directly," Leonard goes on to explain, "presumably the place of celebration rule also extends to marriages between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals that take place outside the U.S., in one of the dozen or so other countries that allow same-sex marriages."

Now that the BIA and the Department of Homeland Security are both committed to using the 'place of celebration rule,' same-sex couples' marriages should be recognized for immigration purposes regardless of where they're living. Still, the legal wrangling around the issue demonstrates that complexity will persist until DOMA is fully repealed or the Respect for Marriage Act is passed by Congress.

Bigoted Vermont Inn Owners Record Video Opposing Marriage Equality in Maine: VIDEO


You may recall that back in August Jim and Mary O'Reilly of The Wildflower Inn in Vermont agreed to pay $10,000 to the ACLU and give $20,000 to a charitable cause after settling a discrimination suit filed by a lesbian couple whose wedding reception the inn refused to host.


As part of the settlement, the Wildflower Inn agreed to no longer host wedding receptions. The inn argued in court that the meetings and events manager misapplied the resort’s policies in turning away Kate and Ming. The resort stated that instead of turning away same-sex couples who seek to hold a wedding reception, their actual policy was to not respond to phone calls or e-mails about wedding receptions for same-sex couples or to have a conversation in which the owners explained to the couple that hosting a wedding reception for a same-sex couple conflicted with their religious beliefs.

As part of the settlement agreement, however, the Wildflower Inn agreed that Vermont law prohibits unequal treatment of same-sex couples, including a failure to respond to inquiries from those couples or discouraging those couples from using the facilities.

Now, the O'Reillys are sticking their noses in Maine's marriage equality battle, starring in an ad for Protect Marriage Maine opposing Question 1 there.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bigoted Vermont Inn Owners Record Video Opposing Marriage Equality in Maine: VIDEO" »

Lesbian Couple Settle Discrimination Suit Against VT Inn

LinsleyBakerThe Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT will pay $10,000 to the ACLU and give $20,000 to a charitable cause after agreeing to settle a discrimination suit filed by two women who say the inn would not host their same-sex wedding reception.

"We're glad that the Wildflower Inn has recognized that the way we were treated was wrong and that no other family will have to experience what we did," said one of the women, Ming Linsley.

"Although we found a different location and had a beautiful day, all families should feel welcome at any resort that's open to the public."

As part of the settlement, the inn has agreed not to host weddings or wedding receptions, but insist that the lawsuit stemmed from a miscommunication in which an employee erroneously denied Linsley and her wife. Though they maintain their opposition against marriage equality, they would have happily taken Linsley's money and then lectured her, they said.


Towleroad - Blogged