Vermont lawmakers are starting a week of hearings on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to adopt civil unions. House and Senate leaders want to pass the gay marriage bill this legislative session, which ends in May.
Supporters say gay marriage would give couples additional rights related to insurance, health care and Social Security benefits.
Hundreds of gay marriage opponents are lobbying at the Vermont Statehouse. They say the bill would undermine the institution of marriage and harm children.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the bill. More hearings are scheduled for later in the week.
In the U.S., gay couples can legally marry only in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
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