Features

Imperial Vermont

National | Ripples are crashing into other states from Vermont, where a law in 2000 established a "civil-union" category that is essentially marriage for same-sex partners, complete with spousal rights.

Issue: "Staying underground," May 3, 2003

Ripples are crashing into other states from Vermont, where a law in 2000 established a "civil-union" category that is essentially marriage for same-sex partners, complete with spousal rights.

Now a judge in Nassau County, N.Y., has ruled that a male homosexual can sue a hospital as the spouse of another man who died a year ago of medical complications following an auto accident. The pair had exchanged vows and rings in a civil ceremony in Vermont in late 2000.

The ruling is the first in the nation to treat a same-sex couple joined in a Vermont civil union as a married couple. Judge John P. Dunne said New York law allows a common-law spouse from another state to sue for wrongful death and a same-sex partner joined by Vermont's civil-union law should have the same right. State law, he noted, doesn't define "spouses" as being of the opposite sex.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

The judge rejected an argument by St. Vincent's Hospital that the civil union was a "narrow circumstance" that allows an exception to federal doctrine requiring states generally to recognize each other's laws. Courts in other states have refused to validate the Vermont law for same-sex couples in their jurisdictions, including in divorce cases.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    From cool to cold

    A long-term study finds middle-school popularity often doesn’t end well