The civil rights group that campaigned
for marriage equality in Vermont said on Thursday that its work is
done and it's disbanding.
The Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force
was formed in 1996 by Beth Robinson and Susan Murray. Robinson is
now a Vermont Supreme Court justice.
In 2009, Vermont became the first state
to approve a marriage law that includes gay and lesbian couples
without court intervention.
Lawmakers approved the state's
first-in-the-nation civil unions law after the Vermont Supreme Court
in 1999 ruled that the Vermont Constitution entitles gay couples to
“the same benefits and protections” afforded to married
opposite-sex couples but stopped short of ordering the state to begin
issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
“Even after Vermont achieved in-state
marriage equality in 2009, we felt it was important to keep standing
for the principle that equality shouldn't depend on where you live,”
Sheryl Rapee, the group's chairwoman, said
in a press release.
“When the marriages of Vermont
same-sex couples received federal recognition after DOMA was struck
down in 2013, that was one step closer,” she continued. “When
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage
equality, our goal was truly met. With the elimination of the unfair
patchwork of marriage laws across the U.S., families of married
same-sex Vermont couples were no longer under threat beyond state
lines. We knew then it was time to begin archiving our history and,
most importantly, to say thank you to all of Vermont Freedom to
Marry’s supporters over the years.”
“Vermont's leadership role in the
marriage equality movement provides a hopeful example of what can be
accomplished when people join together with determination and
perseverance to gain civil rights,” the group added.