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Vermont Civil Unions 10 Years Later

Vermont Civil Unions 10 Years Later


One decade ago Thursday, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, opening the door for some of those same couples, and others that followed, to marry starting in 2009.

The political landscape in Vermont has changed vastly since the days of former governor Howard Dean's push to legally recognize same-sex couples, the Associated Press reports. When Lois Farnham and Holly Puterbaugh entered into their civil union on July 1, 2000, the church where they had their ceremony requested the attendance of plainclothes police officers, anticipating altercations. Now the couple say many see their relationship as "ho-hum."

"At the time, civil unions were so radical," Farnham said to the AP. "Now it's the fallback, conservative issue."

On Election Day in 2000, voters were split in their views on civil unions, with 49% on each side. Since then, a 2004 exit poll of Vermont showed that 40% favored marriage, 37% supported civil unions, and 21% opposed both. Then in 2009 the state legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas to enact marriage equality.

In 2000, following the state's campaign to initiate civil unions, The Advocate examined the effort to get to that point and its possible effects on the future. Click here to read the full cover story.

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