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social sciences

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Civil Union  
page: 1  2  3  

In 2009, the legislature considered a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry. The bill easily passed both houses of the Democratic-controlled legislature but was vetoed by the Republican governor.

In a dramatic showdown, the legislature overrode the governor's veto by a vote of 25-3 in the Senate and by a vote of 100-49 in the House.

Sponsor Message.

Most observers credit the civil unions law for paving the way to full marriage equality in Vermont. In the nine years that the civil union law had been in existence, the sky did not fall. Moreover, in those years Vermonters became familiar with same-sex marriage in two neighboring jurisdictions: Canada and Massachusetts.

The new marriage law became effective on September 1, 2009. After that date, no civil unions will be performed, though those that have been performed will continue to be recognized.

Couples who wish to "upgrade" their civil unions to marriage must obtain marriage licenses and have marriage ceremonies.

The new marriage law also makes explicit that Vermont recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions where they are legal.

Gregory A. Johnson

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social sciences >> Overview:  Commitment Ceremonies

Similar to heterosexual weddings, commitment ceremonies of same-sex partnerships are legally recognized in some countries, but generally not in the United States.

social sciences >> Overview:  Custody Litigation

While the courts of some states have been almost unremittingly hostile to gay men and lesbians involved in custody litigation, others have declared that glbtq parents have the same rights and responsibilities as other parents.

social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

social sciences >> Overview:  Family

Many glbtq people reject a fixed definition of family imposed by society, and instead claim the right to define their own families as they choose.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sexual Citizenship

The concept of sexual citizenship draws attention to the political aspects of erotics and the sexual component of politics.

social sciences >> ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project

For more than four decades, the ACLU has been at the forefront of litigation and education designed to secure glbtq rights on a variety of fronts.

social sciences >> Bonauto, Mary

American attorney Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, has won major rulings that have brought the promise of equal rights nearer to reality.

social sciences >> Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authorizes states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships or civil unions and it requires that federal bureaus and agencies recognize only opposite-sex marriages.

social sciences >> Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

New England's leading legal organization dedicated to equal justice for glbtq individuals and families, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) provides litigation, advocacy, and educational work in all areas of glbtq civil rights.

social sciences >> Wolfson, Evan

Evan Wolfson has participated in some of the crucial legal battles in the struggle for glbtq rights, and has been particularly visible in the quest for marriage equality.


Cox, Barbara J. "But Why Not Marriage: An Essay on Vermont's Civil Unions Law, Same-Sex Marriage, and Separate But (Un)Equal." Vermont Law Review 25 (2000):113-47.

Eskridge, William N. Equality Practice, Civil Unions and the Future of Gay Rights. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Goldberg, Carey. "Gay Couples are Welcoming Vermont Measure on Civil Union." New York Times (March 18, 2000): A1.

Johnson, Greg. "Vermont Civil Unions: The New Language of Marriage." Vermont Law Review 25 (2000): 15-59.

"Report of the Vermont Civil Union Review Commission."

Strasser, Mark. On Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and the Rule of Law. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002.

Williams, Robert F. "Old Constitutions and New Issues: National Lessons From Vermont's State Constitutional Case on Marriage of Same-Sex Couples." Boston College Law Review 43 (2001): 73-123.


    Citation Information
    Author: Johnson, Gregory A.  
    Entry Title: Civil Union  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated July 4, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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