A lesbian couple
joined in the first legally recognized same-sex civil
union in the country has officially split up. Carolyn Conrad
and Kathleen Peterson, both of Brattleboro, Vt.,
entered a civil union shortly after midnight on July
1, 2000, the day Vermont's first-of-its-kind
state law went into effect.
Conrad, 35, filed to end the union in October
and later obtained a restraining order against her
partner, saying Peterson punched a hole in the wall
during an argument and threatened to harm a friend. A judge
granted the request for a dissolution Wednesday.
"It's a heartbreaking situation for any couple,"
Conrad told the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper
on Wednesday. The couple had been in a relationship
for five years before Vermont began offering same-sex
couples the state-level rights and benefits of marriage.
Beth Robinson, chairwoman of the Vermont Freedom
to Marry Task Force, said the union's end shows that
the state's civil union law is working. "One of the
goals was to create a mechanism to protect people in a
relationship and create a mechanism to help people dissolve
relationships," she said. "Same-sex relationships are no
different than heterosexual relationships. Sometimes they
last, sometimes they don't."
More than 7,500 civil unions have been formed in
Vermont since the end of 2004, and 78 have been