LGBT rights in Vermont

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Map of USA VT.svg
StatusLegal since 1977
(Legislative repeal)
Gender identityTransgender persons allowed to change gender without surgery
Discrimination protectionsYes, for both sexual orientation and gender identity
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2009

The establishment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in the U.S. state of Vermont is a recent occurrence, with the majority of progress having taken place in the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Vermont was one of the 37 U.S. 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.

Moreover, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and conversion therapy on minors are both outlawed in the state. Vermont is often regarded as one of the most LGBT-friendly states in the country. It was the first state to legally recognize same-sex unions, when it established civil unions for same-sex couples in 2000. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2009, and opinion polls have found that around 80% of Vermont residents support it, as of 2018.[1]

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Criminal laws against adult, private, consensual and noncommercial sodomy were repealed at the state level in April 1977.[2][3]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Vermont since September 1, 2009.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Vermont has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 1994.[7]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Vermont law permits single LGBT individual and same-sex couples to petition to adopt.[8]

In June 1993, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lesbian who sought to adopt her partner's two biological sons.[9]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Vermont law bans discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodations, education, housing, credit, insurance and union practices.[10]

The discrimination protections based on sexual orientation were added in 1992.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13][14]

Moreover, the state's anti-bullying law prohibits bullying on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. The law also explicitly includes cyberbullying and harassment, and applies to all educational institutions in the state.[15]

Hate crime law[edit]

When Vermont enacted hate crime 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.[16] The state added gender identity in 1999.[17][18]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On March 17, 2016, the Vermont Senate unanimously approved a bill banning the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors.[19][20] On April 26, the Vermont House of Representatives approved the bill with amendments. The Senate concurred with the amendments on April 29.[21] Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill on May 25. It took effect on July 1, 2016.[22]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Vermont permits both preoperative and post-operative transgender individuals 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.[23]

Gender-neutral restrooms[edit]

Since July 1, 2018, Vermont has legally allowed full access for everyone to "single gender-neutral restrooms", after the Governor of Vermont signed a bill into law in May 2018. California has a similar law that was implemented in March 2017.[24][25]

"Gender X" option[edit]

Since July 1, 2019, driver's licences in Vermont has legally offered a "gender X" option.[26]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 80% of Vermont residents supported same-sex marriage, while 16% were opposed and 4% were unsure.[1] This was the highest level of support in the United States, tied with Massachusetts.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1977)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1977)
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas Yes (Both sexual orientation since 1992 and gender identity since 2007)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2009)
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. civil union) Yes (Since 2000 - the first US state to do so)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes
Lesbians, gays and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2011)
Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Access to single gender-neutral restrooms Yes (Since 2018)
Third gender option Yes (Since 2019)[26]
Conversion therapy banned on minors Yes (Since 2016)
Surrogacy access for gay male couples Yes (Altruistic only)
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes/No (1 year deferral; federal policy)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Consulting, Epicenter. "PRRI – American Values Atlas".
  2. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed October 10, 2010
  3. ^ Vermont Sodomy Law Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Vermont Public Radio: "Same-sex couple ties the knot at midnight," September 1, 2009, accessed May 9, 2011
  5. ^ "D.C. vote puts gay marriage before Congress". Boston Globe. April 9, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  6. ^ Higgins, Richard (July 2, 2000). "Vermont Licenses First Civil Unions". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  7. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  8. ^ Vermont Adoption Law Archived 2012-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Lesbian Wins Appeal on Vermont Adoption". New York Times. June 20, 1993. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  10. ^ Vermont Non-Discrimination Law Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "The Vermont Legislative Bill Tracking System".
  12. ^ "Gov. Douglas vetoes gender discrimination bill".
  13. ^ "Vermont Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Discrimination Law".
  14. ^ BuzzFlash. "Vermont Governor Signs Non-Discrimination Bill Into Law".
  15. ^ Vermont Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ Wallace Swan, ed., Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Administration and Policy (Taylor & Francis, 2005), 131, available online, accessed July 12, 2013
  19. ^ "Bills Seeking To Ban 'Ex-Gay' Therapy To Minors Advance In Colorado, Vermont".
  20. ^ "Vermont legislature moving towards banning conversion therapy". Metro Weekly. March 17, 2016.
  21. ^ S.132
  22. ^ "Gov. Shumlin signs law banning conversion therapy in Vermont".
  23. ^ Vermont Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues Archived 2012-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Mosbergen, Dominique (May 14, 2018). "Vermont Lawmakers Pass Gender-Neutral Bathroom Bill To 'Send Powerful Message'". Huffington Post.
  25. ^ Croffie, Kwegyirba (May 14, 2018). "Vermont passes gender-neutral bathroom bill". CNN.
  26. ^ a b French, Ellie (March 12, 2019). "State ready to roll out 'X' gender option on new licenses". VTDigger.