In a groundbreaking decision on Monday, December 20, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be granted the full rights and privileges of marriage, equal to those granted heterosexual unions under Vermont law. While the final implementation will be left up to the Vermont legislature, the justices declared that "Whatever system is chosen . . . must conform with the constitutional imperative to afford all Vermonters the common benefit, protection, and security of the law."
The ruling cannot be appealed, because the court's decision is based on the state constitution. Now, the issue will come before the 2000 session of the state legislature, set to convene in January. Through its ruling the court has mandated that the legislature establish a system by which equal rights are extended to same-sex couples, whether that be marriage or a domestic partnership system.