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Friday, May 26, 2017

Green Mountain State • Vermont

Written by  David Placher
Usually it’s 'Brrrr!' in Burlington, but today, just wet! Usually it’s 'Brrrr!' in Burlington, but today, just wet!

Getting to Vermont is cheap and easy. Spirit, Jetblue, and Southwest airlines usually offer deals, especially if you purchase your tickets in advance. A ticket can cost as little as $30 one-way. You can rent a car from Boston’s Logan Airport or if you have great friends in the area, carpool to Vermont. Hotel prices range from super cheap to very expensive, so plan in advance. The drive to Vermont is simple: one hour to Vermont’s border and two hours from there to its biggest city Burlington. It is the second least populated state (Wyoming is first). Its capital of Montpelier is the least-populous capital in the U.S. It is the only state that does not have buildings taller than 124 feet. It is also a state that is being hit hard by climate change because many of its industries, such as sugar maple production, are affected by acid rain and warmer weather. Vermont is a great state to visit and learn about, especially when it comes to gay history, its home to a great company, and its awesome outdoor activities.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court favorably ruled on gay marriage on June 26, 2015, since September 1st, 2009, same-sex marriage has been legal in Vermont. It is the first state to introduce civil unions in July 2000, and it was the first state to introduce same-sex marriage by enacting a law without being forced to do so by a court. There were four states that legalized same-sex marriage before Vermont, but those states were forced to by their respective courts: Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, and Iowa.

There is one gay bar in Burlington – named Mister Sister – and it just opened a few months ago. Pearl, the previous gay bar, closed about a decade ago, and no gay bars opened until Mister Sister. Mister Sister is an awesome place to meet people. Its crowd is mixed with college students and professionals, all dressed snazzy and eager to socialize. It is a dance club with a social bar connected to it. The music is great and the environment is very casual and accepting.

Many people know Vermont being the home of the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. It stated in 1978 as a company that just made ice cream, now today they also make frozen yogurt and sorbet under the aegis of their conglomerate owners. In 1989, Ben & Jerry’s became the first major employer in Vermont to offer health insurance to domestic-partner employees. In 1996, its foundation awarded grants to Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). It also took a large jump and supported Vermont’s civil union bill in 1999. Few companies had the courage to take a stand when the issue was just getting attention on a national level. in 2009, the ice-cream maker celebrated gay marriage in Vermont by renaming “Chubby Hubby” to “Hubby Hubby.” In 2012, it partnered with Stonewall to support marriage equality in the U.K. with a flavor called Apple-y Ever After, in 2013 it supported marriage equality in Australia with a flavor called “I Dough, I Dough,” and in Ireland with a flavor called “EngageMint Party.” In 2015, it celebrated the legalization of gay marriage nationwide by renaming the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that is sold in the U.S. to “I Dough, I Dough.” With Vermont being Ben & Jerry’s home, taking its corporate tour to show equal support for a company that has supported the LGBT community is something to consider.

Burlington sits on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. Its downtown is filled with shops and restaurants and Market Street offers several places for tourists and locals to sit, drink, and relax. There’s also a sidewalk along Burlington’s shore with Lake Champlain for people to walk and look at the picturesque scene. People can also catch a ferry to New York or just take a ride on the water. North of downtown is the Ethen Allen Homestead Museum, home to a Revolutionary War hero. Not too far outside Burlington are hiking trails, where you can find peaceful places to gather thoughts and wonder. The luscious green grass with the rolling mountains offer a place to escape. Hiking Mount Mansfield provides a peaceful place to reconnect with oneself. There are also several historic wooden covered bridges that offer great pictures. If you plan on taking a weekend trip, Vermont is a place worth strongly considering.

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