Same-sex marriage will be legal in Vermont beginning Tuesday, but few couples have taken out licenses in advance, the Associated Press reports.
City and town clerks have issued just a handful of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, making the situation a far cry from the rush to take out civil union licenses when those became available to same-sex couples in 2000.
In Burlington, Vermont's largest city, only three same-sex couples have taken out marriage licenses. In Rutland the number is four. Some other cities, including Manchester, Brattleboro, and Montpelier, the state capital, report that they have issued no licenses to same-sex couples so far.
"I expect that after September 1, it's going to pick up," said Vermont secretary of state Deborah Markowitz.
When civil unions, which carry many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, became available to gay couples July 1, 2000, clerks' offices did land-office business. There were 1,704 civil unions established in the next six months, with 405 coming in the first month. Couples from other states represented 78% of them.
"Of course, we were the first state, so that made the draw much bigger," Manchester town clerk Linda Spence told the AP. Spence said that while she has yet to issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she has heard from three couples who want them, including two who obtained civil union licenses from her. "It makes me feel good," she said. One of those couples is from Australia, she added.
One reason for the slow start for marriage licenses, according to the AP, may be the gap between the state's adoption of a marriage equality law -- in April -- and the September 1 effective date, and the fact that the gap covered the busiest season for weddings. Also, with marriage becoming available to same-sex couples in other states in the past few years, there was less of a pent-up demand than there was when the civil union law took effect.
Still, couples and the businesses that cater to weddings are making plans. Two men from Whitehall, N.Y., are planning to be married at midnight Monday at the Moose Meadow Lodge in Duxbury. And in honor of gay couples, Vermont-based Ben and Jerry's is renaming its Chubby Hubby flavor Hubby Hubby for the month of September.