Vt. couples will end same-sex marriage suit

May 10, 2000
The couples whose landmark lawsuit spurred Vermont's creation of "civil unions" -- registered partnerships for gay and lesbian couples carrying all the state-level benefits and responsibilities of legal marriage -- will not continue to press their suit
seeking inclusion of same-gender couples in the marriage statutes. In a joint statement May 9, the three plaintiff couples and their attorneys declared their intention to terminate the "Baker v. State" lawsuit once civil unions go into effect on July 1. 
     The Vermont Supreme Court found in December that the Equal Benefits clause of the state constitution required making the benefits of marriage accessible to same-gender couples. The court ordered the state legislature to achieve that either by extending the marriage statutes to include gays and lesbians or by creating a parallel structure, while retaining jurisdiction to ensure that the legislature's action met its standards. The legislature created and enacted civil unions, in a bill signed into law by Governor Howard Dean (D) last month.