Vermont Supreme Court Decision for Baker v. State
Stan BAKER, et al.
STATE of Vermont, et al.
744 A.2d 864 (1999)
Supreme Court of Vermont.
May the State of Vermont exclude same-sex couples from the benefits and protections that its laws provide to opposite-sex married couples? That is the fundamental question we address in this appeal, a question that the Court well knows arouses deeply felt religious, moral, and political beliefs. Our constitutional responsibility to consider the legal merits of issues properly before us provides no exception for the controversial case. The issue before the Court, moreover, does not turn on the religious or moral debate over intimate same-sex relationships, but rather on the statutory and constitutional basis for the exclusion of same-sex couples from the secular benefits and protections offered married couples.
We conclude that under the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution, which, in pertinent part, reads,
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit,
protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for
the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or
set of persons, who are a part only of that community.…
Vt. Const., ch. I, art 7., plaintiffs may not be deprived of the statutory benefits and protections afforded persons of the opposite sex who