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Washington, DC, December 20, 1999 — DignityUSA, the nation's foremost independent voice of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, applauds the Supreme Court of Vermont for its recognition that gay and lesbian couples should be accorded the same rights and benefits as traditionally married couples. President Mary Louise Cervone said, "The Supreme Court's decision recognizes the discrimination long faced by same sex couples, and is a giant step towards reversing this historical injustice. We celebrate their wisdom and courage. We also thank the couples who were at the center of this decision for coming forward."

Cervone continued, "We now challenge the Vermont State Legislature to keep this same sense of equality and justice in mind as they move forward with their decision on how to implement the Supreme Court's decision. We urge a careful listening and dialogue, conducted in a respectful and tempered manner that honors the rights of all citizens. We urge the people of Vermont to remember that the eyes of the world will be upon them as they enact historic legislation that will go a long way towards ensuring the full dignity of the state's gay and lesbian citizens."

Marianne Duddy, Dignity's Executive Director added, "DignityUSA issues a special call to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church of Vermont. We respect their right to voice their opinions in the public debate which will ensue. However, we urge them to refrain from repeating myths and lies about gay and lesbian people in an effort to skew the debate."

Duddy also noted that DignityUSA offers a program to support same-sex couples in committed relationships, and has issued guidelines for Chapters to celebrate Weddings/Rites of Holy Unions/Commitment Ceremonies for member couples. DignityUSA also maintains a national registry of couples whose commitments have been blessed by one of its Chapters.

DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, our families and friends. It is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1969, and has chapters and members across the US