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Fulfilling promise, Vermont governor marries lesbian couple

August 17, 2011 |  4:13 pm

While traveling the state last year as a candidate for governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin did what many politicians do. He made a campaign promise.

Specifically, he met Michelle "Mitch" Beck, 55, and Ann Beck, 56, a lesbian couple from Royalton, Vt., at a campaign event. After the couple thanked him for the work he had done in the state Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage, he asked them if they were married.

Gov. Shumlin presides over gay marriage "We said no," Ann Beck told The Times. "Then he said, 'Well you wait, when I’m governor, you come to my office and I’ll marry you.' "

In January, he became governor of Vermont.

On Wednesday, he made good on his promise and married the couple in his Montpelier office.

"Politicians say that sort of thing all the time, but that doesn't mean it's so," Beck said. "But he absolutely honored the commitment."

About 20 friends and family of the couple gathered in the office for the wedding. The couple, who had been joined in a civil union, already shared a name, but not a marriage.

Shumlin opened the ceremony by stating how special it is that a couple in love, no matter the sexual orientation, could be married in Vermont, said Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for the governor, in an interview.

Shumlin, a Democrat, led the legislative push in Vermont for same-sex marriage; the resulting law took effect in 2009.

At the ceremony, after reading a poem selected by the couple, Shumlin conducted the vows and signed the wedding certificate. A short reception followed.

"It was wonderful," Beck said. "We're so honored to have the governor do this for us."

In July, after New York legalized same-sex marriage, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated at the wedding of two gay aides on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, his official residence.

Bloomberg was a relentless advocate during the push to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, holding fundraisers, giving speeches and lobbying state lawmakers on the issue. 


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Photo: Ann, right, and Michelle Beck hold hands during their wedding vows as Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin presides Wednesday in Montpelier, Vt. Credit: Associated Press