The Vermont Supreme Court rejected claims made by legislators and town clerks that the state’s civil union laws, which grant gay and lesbian couples the most comprehensive package of domestic partner benefits in the nation, were unconstitutional. Among the plaintiff’s arguments was the claim that the law requiring town clerks to issue civil union licenses to gays and lesbians forced them to act against their religious belief that homosexuality is immoral. The Court determined that the town clerks claims were invalid as an assistant could be appointed to distribute the licenses. The Court also admonished the town clerks saying that it was “highly questionable” for a public official to “retain public office while refusing to perform a generally applicable duty of that office on religious grounds.” In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the nation to give civil recognition to gay and lesbian couples. Soon after, the bill faced legal challenges, all of which have failed thus far.
Media Resources: Associated Press, 1/3/02; Feminist Daily News Wire