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The new collection features a range of materials, from legal briefs to county fair booth displays.

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Middlebury to Receive Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force Archives

May 1, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — In the same week that the United States Supreme Court heard testimony on same sex marriage, Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives has announced that it will become the official repository for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force’s archives. The nonprofit task force, formed in 1996, was instrumental in passing both Vermont’s landmark civil unions law in 2000 and subsequent same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2009.

"The archive documents the historical arc of the freedom to marry movement in Vermont including strategy, personal stories, and legal proceedings” said Rebekah Irwin, director of special collections and archives for Middlebury.

Among the many items in the new acquisition are physical materials, legal documents, paper records and ephemera, and political campaign signs, placards, and stickers. There are also photos and booth displays that were presented at county fairs, and minutes from the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force going back to its founding. The materials will be housed in the College archives as well as online with the aid of software designed to preserve digital archives such as websites, blogs, and videos.

The new collection also includes briefs, pleadings, and legal files from the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court case, Baker v. Vermont, in which three same-sex couples brought suit seeking judgment that a statute excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional under state law and the state constitution. In Baker v. Vermont, the Court ordered the legislature to extend the same rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples as were available to different-sex couples through marriage, paving the way for Vermont’s civil unions law–the first of its kind in the country–and, nearly a decade later, the marriage equality law.

Irwin says the collection has a lot to offer researchers who continue to study the issue of marriage equality.  “Baker v. Vermont is of great interest as court cases continue,” said Irwin, “particularly in states where same-sex marriage is still prohibited.”

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in late June of 2015. The Freedom to Marry Task Force Archives will arrive in the Middlebury College Library soon after.