LGBT rights in Vermont

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LGBT rights in Vermont
Map of USA VT.svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1977
(Legislative repeal)
Gender identity/expression Transgender persons allowed to change gender without surgery
Discrimination protections Yes, on both sexual orientation and gender identity
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2009
Adoption Yes

The establishment of LGBT rights in the US state of Vermont is a recent occurrence, with the majority of progress having taken place in the past century. It was one of 37 US states, along with the District of Columbia, that issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, until the landmark Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized equal marriage rights for same-sex couples nationwide.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Criminal laws against adult, private, consensual and noncommercial sodomy were repealed at the state level in April 1977.[1][2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Vermont since September 1, 2009.[3] It was the first state in which same-sex marriage became legal through the action of the legislature and governor rather than as a result of a court decision.[4]

In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state must provide equal marriage benefits to same-sex couples, whether in the form of marriage or an equivalent. As a result, Vermont introduced civil unions in July 2000, the first state to provide a status identical to marriage.[5]

Vermont has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 1994.[6]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Vermont law permits single LGBT individual and same-sex couples to petition to adopt.[7]

In June 1993, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lesbian who sought to adopt her partner's two biological sons.[8]

Discrimination protections[edit]

LGBT flag map of Vermont

Vermont law bans discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodations, education, housing, credit, insurance and union practices.[9]

The discrimination protections based on sexual orientation were added in 1992.[10] In 2006, the State Legislature passed a bill adding gender identity to the state's non-discrimination law, but it was vetoed by Governor Jim Douglas on May 17, 2006.[11] It was passed again in 2007 with a large majority, and was then signed into law by the Governor on May 22, 2007. It took effect on July 1, 2007.[12][13]

Hate crime laws[edit]

When Vermont enacted hate crimes legislation in 1990, one of the first states to do so, the Hate Crimes Act included sexual orientation. Most of the testimony and statistics that supported its passage related to the gay and lesbian community and one incident of anti-gay violence helped secure its passage.[14] The state added gender identity in 1999.[15][16]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On March 17, 2016, the Vermont Senate unanimously approved a bill banning the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors.[17][18] On April 26, the Vermont House of Representatives approved the bill with amendments. The Senate concurred with the amendments on April 29.[19] Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill on May 25. It took effect on July 1, 2016.[20]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Vermont permits both preoperative and post-operative transsexuals to change the sex on their birth certificates and other state-issued documents. To do so on the basis of preoperative gender reassignment, it requires a letter from a licensed practitioner of medicine or mental health professional and a letter from the applicant. As of 2013, all health insurers that underwrite policies in Vermont are required to cover transgender care, including sex reassignment surgery.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed October 10, 2010
  2. ^ Vermont Sodomy Law
  3. ^ Vermont Public Radio: "Same-sex couple ties the knot at midnight," September 1, 2009, accessed May 9, 2011
  4. ^ "D.C. vote puts gay marriage before Congress". Boston Globe. April 9, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Higgins, Richard (July 2, 2000). "Vermont Licenses First Civil Unions". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  7. ^ Vermont Adoption Law
  8. ^ "Lesbian Wins Appeal on Vermont Adoption". New York Times. June 20, 1993. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  9. ^ Vermont Non-Discrimination Law
  10. ^ Bill S.0131
  11. ^ Gov. Douglas vetoes gender discrimination bill
  12. ^ Vermont Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Discrimination Law
  13. ^ Vermont Governor Signs Non-Discrimination Bill Into Law
  14. ^ Mary Bernsten, "The Contradictions of Gay Ethnicity: Forging Identity in Vermont," in David S. Meyer, et al., eds, Social Movements: Identity, Culture, and the State (Oxford University Press, 2002), 96-7, available online, accessed July 12, 2013
  15. ^ Wallace Swan, ed., Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Administration and Policy (Taylor & Francis, 2005), 131, available online, accessed July 12, 2013
  17. ^ Bills Seeking To Ban 'Ex-Gay' Therapy To Minors Advance In Colorado, Vermont
  18. ^ "Vermont legislature moving towards banning conversion therapy". Metro Weekly. March 17, 2016. 
  19. ^ S.132
  20. ^ Gov. Shumlin signs law banning conversion therapy in Vermont
  21. ^ Vermont Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues