As the first state to prohibit slavery by constitution, and one of the few states which, from its inception, extended the vote to male citizens who did not own land, the State of Vermont has long been at the forefront of this nation's march toward full equality for all of its citizens. In July 1997, three same-sex couples challenged Vermont to act as a leader yet again, this time in affording full civil rights to the State's gay and lesbian citizens. Stan Baker and Peter Harrigan, Nina Beck and Stacy Jolles, and Holly Puterbaugh and Lois Farnham were denied marriage licenses by their respective town clerks in the summer of 1997. They sued the State of Vermont and the towns, arguing that the marriage statutes allowed them to marry, and that if the law did purport to limit marriage to different sex unions it would be unconstitutional. The trial court dismissed their claims in December 1997, and the couples appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The court heard oral arguments on the case on November 18, 1998.
Mary Bonauto, Susan M. Murray & Beth Robinson,
The Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples: The Opening Appellate Brief of Plaintiffs Stan Baker Et Al. In Baker Et Al. V. State of Vermont,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol6/iss1/1