May 1, 2012 UPDATE: Governor Peter Shumlin signed this bill into law. Thank you for your steadfast leadership on LGBT rights, Governor Shumlin!
The Vermont House and Senate have passed, and Gov. Peter Shumlin will sign, H. 758, An Act Relating to Divorce and Dissolution Proceedings. Starting on July 1, 2012, same-sex couples with Vermont civil unions or marriages, and who do not live in Vermont, will be able to legally end their relationships in the Vermont courts.
Unfortunately, since the passage of the civil union law in 1999, same-sex couples who obtained their civil unions (and, later, marriages) in Vermont and then found themselves at the sad crossroads of the relationship's end faced yet another hurdle. Vermont law required at least one member of the couple to reside in Vermont for at least six months in order to file for dissolution of the relationship, and for a full year to actually complete the process.
"An inevitable consequence of allowing couples to marry is that some of them will eventually seek divorce," says attorney Alexia Venafra. "I have had the unfortunate role of telling many out-of-state separated same-sex couples that they were trapped in their legal union unless one of them relocated to Vermont. I'm delighted that I can now offer a better solution."
Generally, other states with marriage equality will dissolve a same-sex couple's Vermont marriage or civil union. However, because the vast majority of states still lack marriage equality, their residents who are in a same-sex marriage or civil union need a legal remedy. Vermont now has such a remedy.
According to the Vermont Department of Health's Vital Statistics System:
- During the nearly 10-year period from the time Vermont civil unions became available on July 1, 2000 until the marriage equality law went into effect on September 1, 2009 (after which no civil union licenses were issued), 7,408 out-of-state couples from every U.S. state (except North Dakota), Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and other countries traveled to Vermont to enter into a civil union.
- Between September 1, 2009 (when Vermont's marriage equality law took effect) and January 31, 2012, 2,299 same sex marriages occurred. These marriages involved parties from 46 U.S. states (including Vermont), Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and other countries.
Vermont H. 758, An Act Relating to Divorce and Dissolution Proceedings, originated in the House Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Rep. Bill Lippert of Hinesburg, and was passed to the full house with a favorable report. Chittenden County Senator Diane Snelling reported the bill favorably to the Senate for that body's Committee on Judiciary.
Click here to read this bill.
Please thank the Vermont legislators who made it happen:
Chairman Bill Lippert and the members House Committee on Judiciary.
Contact info: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/lms/legdir/districts.asp?Body=H&Session=2012
And the members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary
Contact info: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/lms/legdir/districts.asp?Body=S&Session=2012
Please thank Gov. Shumlin for signing this bill,* and for his ongoing championing of marriage equality.