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Opinion: Rep. Nuovo followed her conscience

The excellent article on Jan. 21 about Rep. Betty Nuovo’s decision not to seek reelection couldn’t possibly have covered all of Betty’s personal attributes because they’re too numerous to share in a short news article. There’s an attribute that I think needs to be highlighted: Betty has a deep well of moral courage and wisdom from which she draws to inform her decisions.
One specific example of this dates from the legislative session of 2000. The house was considering H.847, the civil union bill, the law that attempted to grant same-gender couples the rights and responsibilities, but not the status, of civil marriage.
A “strike all” amendment was presented that would have deleted all the language in the bill and replaced it with a few modifications to the existing marriage statutes that would have given full marriage equality to same-gender couples in Vermont. Betty Nuovo was one of just 22 representatives who supported the amendment.
In many ways that idea was ahead of its time, and there was certainly a big political risk to supporting marriage equality then, but Betty didn’t care, she knew what was right, and she voted the right way regardless of the consequences. (And there was real risk … later that year Betty’s fellow representative, Anne Ginevan, lost a Republican Primary challenge from a more conservative candidate, mostly because of her support of the civil union law.)
Now, 16 years later, a majority of Vermonters agree with Betty’s position, but in 2000 most people weren’t as accepting. She wasn’t afraid to vote her conscience.
Middlebury has been exceedingly fortunate to have benefited from her service over the years, and she’s leaving some very big shoes to fill.
Joseph Watson, Leicester

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