Friday, December 2, 2011

Baker v. State lives

For those who write and teach about gender, sexuality and law, the big news from Vermont this week is that Beth Robinson, the lead attorney in the landmark case Baker v. State (1999), which found that the state was obliged under the state constitution to provide something like marriage to same-sex couples, was sworn onto the bench of the Vermont Supreme Court. She took the seat of Justice Denise Johnson, who wrote the important concurrence in Baker v. State in which she argued that same-sex couples should, by virtue of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, get marriage and not some differently named or structured alternative. The state VT legislature wound up creating "civil unions" -- but, thanks in large part to Robinson's continuing advocacy work, did ultimately legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

Beth Robinson may not be the only out lesbian ever to serve on a State Supreme Court (although she is the first to serve on ours). But she is almost certainly the only out LGBT advocate and activist to have made it from the "streets" to the "suites" in this way.

Here, from November 29, is the link to the Huffington Post reportage, with video:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/beth-robinson-vermont-supreme-court-justice-_n_1118772.html

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