- Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2009. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)
- In July 2000, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.
- In 2009, Vermont was the first state to introduce same-sex marriage into state law by enacting a statute without being required to do so by a court decision.
Legislation - Enacted
No. 91 An Act Relating to Civil Unions
Author/Sponsor: Representative Bill Lippert
Date Introduced: 3 February 2000
Date Enacted: 1 July 2000
- In 2000, the Legislature responded to the Baker decision (see Baker v. Vermont under Lawsuits-Resolved below) by instituting civil unions for same-sex couples after an acrimonious and deeply polarizing debate. The legislation, which took effect on July 1, also defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, an explicit statement previously not found in Vermont's marriage licensing statute.
- The legislation passed on 15 March 2000.
Marriage Equality Act (Vermont)
Author/Sponsor: Representative Mark Larson and 59 co-sponsors
Date Introduced: 6 February 2009 (A prior bill had been introduced in February 2007 but no action was taken on it.)
Date Enacted: 1 September 2009
- 23 March 2009, the State Senate approved same-sex marriage legislation; however, Governor Jim Douglas threatened to veto it.
- 3 April 2009, the State House passed an amended version of the bill 95–52, several votes shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.
- 6 April 2009, the Senate approved the amendments made by the House and the governor vetoed the legislation as promised.
- 7 April 2009, the Senate overrode the veto by a 23–5 vote and the House overrode it 100–49.
- 1 September 2009, the law went into effect.
Lawsuits - Resolved
Baker v. Vermont
Case #: 744 A.2d 864
Date Filed: 22 July 1997
Ruling Date: 20 December 1999
- 22 July 1997, three same-sex couples sued the state and the jurisdictions that had denied them marriage licenses. They lost in the trial court on December 19.
- 19 December 1997, the trial court ruled against them. That court ruled that Vermont's statutes limiting marriage to different-sex couples were constitutional because they served the public interest by promoting "the link between procreation and child rearing".
- The case was appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court.
- 20 December 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that the Vermont Constitution entitles same-sex couples to "the same benefits and protections afforded by Vermont law to married opposite-sex couples". However, instead of ordering state officials to allow same-sex couples to marry, the court invited the state legislature to devise a solution. The Court set no deadline, but suspended its judgment for "a reasonable period."
Ballot Initiatives - Passed
- A poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute 3 June-20 June 2013 found that 66% of Vermont voters supported same-sex marriage, while 13% were against and 21% had no opinion. Poll Details