Five years ago today, the Vermont State Supreme Court ruled in Baker v. State (98-032) that gay couples are entitled to all the benefits, protections and responsibilities given to heterosexual married couples by the state. Denying gay couples such rights was discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Vermont state constitution. The court left the details of the remedy to the Vermont legislature. Rather than legalize gay marriages, the legislature created a parallel institution: civil union.
The text of the decision can be found here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/sections/library/decisions/vermont
Wikipedia's entry on the decision can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_v._Vermont