- June 3, 2016
Last night I was honored to be on a post-screening panel of "The State of Marriage," a film that documents the Green Mountain State's groundbreaking role in the fight for marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The film focuses on the dynamic duo of Beth Robinson and Susan Murray, co-counsel in the 1999 landmark Baker v. Vermont state supreme court victory. The decision held that the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage denied rights granted by the Vermont constitution. The court ordered the Vermont legislature to either allow same-sex marriages or implement an alternative legal mechanism according similar rights to same-sex couples. The legislature ended up creating "civil unions" and Governor Howard Dean signed it into law, making Vermont the first state in our nation to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.
The backlash against the law led to a "Take Back Vermont" movement, pitting neighbor against neighbor and caused significant political unrest across the state with many legislators losing their seats. The passion play in Vermont eventually settled down and in 2009, by a one vote margin, the state legislature overrode a Governor's veto, making Vermont the fourth state to enact marriage equality, but the first to do so through the legislative process and not by court mandate.
Having worked in Vermont electoral politics for over a decade it was a wonderful reunion to see Vermont's Susan Murray and to be joined last night by Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor, and others who played different roles in the marriage equality movement.
Last night's event was held at the NYC LGBT Community Services Center.