On April 26, 2000, after months of emotional debate, then-Governor Howard Dean signed civil unions legislation that made Vermont the first state to grant the legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.
The law was the result of the Baker v. State decision by the Vermont Supreme Court which said, in part:
"…the government goal of promoting a commitment between married couples to promote the security of their children and the community…provides no reasonable basis for denying the legal benefits and protections of marriage to same-sex couples…"
The decision was authored by Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy. We talk with the former chief justice about the court’s decision, the public response and the decision’s impact nationally. Amestoy is now a Fellow at the Center For Public Leadership at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School Of Government. Listen
We also hear from Representative Bill Lippert who, as the legislature’s only openly gay member, was involved in crafting civil unions legislation. Listen
And former "Out In The Mountains" editor Euan Bear offers a personal reflection on the impact of the law’s signing. Listen