Bill Lippert

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William J. Lippert
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
from the Chittenden-1-1 district
Incumbent
Assumed office
April 13, 1994
Preceded by Chuck Ross
Personal details
Born (1950-01-18) January 18, 1950 (age 64)
Port Trevorton, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Enrique Peredo
Residence Hinesburg, Vermont

William J. Lippert, commonly known as Bill Lippert, is a legislator and gay rights activist from the U.S. state of Vermont who has served since 1994 in the Vermont House of Representatives as a representative of the Chittenden-1-1 House district in Hinesburg. He serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Early life and career[edit]

Lippert grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from Earlham College in 1972 with a B.A. in History. He has lived in Vermont since 1972, and moved to Hinesburg in 1979.

In the early 1970s, he formed the state's first gay men's support group and, in 1983, Lippert worked with others to organize Vermont’s first gay pride rally in Burlington. Later, he was instrumental in lobbying for Vermont’s gay civil rights bill, which passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Madeleine M. Kunin in 1991. In 1990, Lippert helped to establish Outright Vermont, an organization dedicated to serving the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth.

In 1992, along with community activist David Curtis, Lippert founded the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a community foundation whose mission is "to improve the quality of life of Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens." Lippert served as the executive director of the Samara Foundation until 2004. Lippert now works part-time as the senior foundation officer for the Samara Foundation.

In the legislature[edit]

Appointment and re-election[edit]

In 1994, Lippert was appointed by Governor Howard Dean to fill a vacant seat representing Hinesburg in the Vermont House of Representatives. The seat had been held by Democrat Chuck Ross, who resigned on being appointed U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's state director. Lippert was elected to a full term in 1996 and has been re-elected biennially ever since. The 2013–14 biennium is his ninth full term in the legislature.

Same-sex unions[edit]

In the year 2000, as the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and as the chamber’s only openly gay member, Lippert was central to the work of drafting and passing into law the landmark Vermont civil union law which granted legal recognition to same gender couples. Following passage of the civil union law, the Vermont Democratic Party faced a backlash and lost its majorities in both chambers of the Vermont Legislature. Subsequently, Lippert lost his position as vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, though he easily won re-election to his seat in the house. Following the 2004 election, the Democrats regained their majority and Lippert was appointed to chair the Judiciary Committee by House Speaker Gaye Symington. He still serves as chair as of February 2011.

Blood Alcohol Limit[edit]

Lippert has also notably mounted a crusade to require arresting citizens for "Driving Under the Influence" at a blood alcohol content of .05%, roughly two drinks within one hour for a 150 pound person.[1] Passage would make Vermont the most restrictive state in the US with respect to BAC limits.[2] Lippert's first attempt at a similar bill in 2000 was defeated, as was an attempt in 2008. He is currently mounting a third attempt in 2013, the first which has not taken place in an election year.[1]

The O'Reilly Factor[edit]

On May 12, 2007, Lippert received national attention when a Fox News crew, on behalf of the program The O'Reilly Factor, interrupted his breakfast in the Vermont statehouse cafeteria to ask him why he didn't support Jessica's Law, for which host Bill O'Reilly is an advocate. Lippert was a central figure in passing similar child protection legislation earlier that same week.[3] Ultimately, the Fox News crew was escorted out of the statehouse by security.[3] The exchange was broadcast on Fox News on May 14, 2007. Later that day, in response to the incident, fellow lawmakers honored Lippert in the well of the House with a standing ovation.[4]

Personal[edit]

Lippert now serves as one of six openly gay members of the Vermont Legislature, alongside representatives Suzi Wizowaty (D–Burlington), Joanna E. Cole (D–Burlington), Brian Campion (D–Bennington), Matt Trieber (D–Bellows Falls) and Herb Russell (D–Rutland).

References[edit]

External links[edit]