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Vermont House advances slavery constitutional amendment

January 21, 2020 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont House on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment to make clear that Vermont prohibits slavery.

The Senate passed the proposal last session. Vermont was the first state to abolish adult slavery. The state Constitution currently says no person 21 or older should serve as a slave unless bound by their own consent or “by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.” The amendment would remove that language and add that slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.

“As we work to ensure that all Vermonters are treated equally and fairly, it is crucial that we amend the archaic language of the Constitution to emphasize that slavery and indentured servitude in any form and for persons of any age are prohibited,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson in a written statement. “People of all races and genders who live, work, and visit Vermont should feel welcomed and safe.”

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The proposed constitutional must be considered by the 2021-2022 Legislature. If it passes, the question will be go before Vermont voters in 2022.