This morning, I blearily padded outside to retrieve today’s Burlington Free Press and was greeted by the best front-page news I’ve seen in at least a month: Beth Robinson was sworn in yesterday as an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court.
As we noted in October when the office of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin announced her appointment, 46-year-old Robinson is an accomplished attorney who served as co-counsel (with her equally notable colleague Susan Murray) for the landmark Baker v. Vermont case that resulted in the passage of the nation’s first civil union law in 2000, and also spearheaded the campaign to achieve full marriage equality for Vermont’s same-sex couples, a milestone reached in 2009. Robinson and Murray also co-founded the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force in 1997.
David Badash notes that the 2009 Vermont marriage equality victory that Robinson helped to engineer came despite a veto from then-Governor Jim Douglas, making Vermont the first state to legalize marriage equality legislatively rather than by a court order, and also the first state to override a gubernatorial veto in order to do so.
The Free Press adds:
Robinson developed a reputation for staying above the fray during her decade-plus campaign for same-sex marriage. As head of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force she exhibited a deliberate patience in building her case, helping those who supported the cause win election to the Legislature and winning over reluctant lawmakers. Though the 2009 same-sex marriage bill won by only a single vote as the Legislature overrode the veto of then-Gov. Jim Douglas, the fight under Robinson’s leadership never turned angry.
Nor did the debate ever focus on Robinson personally, though she and partner Kym Boyman had a civil union ceremony in 2001 and married in 2010. Boyman joined Robinson in the celebration at Monday’s swearing-in. “It’s an incredible honor,” she said…
As she accepted congratulations after Monday’s ceremony, Robinson said it occurred to her that the two pinnacles of her career had occurred on the same 9-foot patch of carpet in the Supreme Court chamber. Once, she had stood facing the five justices while arguing the Baker case. Now, she faced the other way addressing the crowd as she was sworn in to serve on the court, where her name plaque was already in place.
Congratulations, Justice Robinson. Your ascension to the Vermont Supreme Court is just another reason Truth Wins Out is proud to call the great State of Vermont home!