Democracy’s defenders: Jay Diaz & Lia Ernst of ACLU VT on fighting for civil liberties

On this Independence Day show, we discuss the battle for civil liberties in Vermont and around the country. Jay Diaz and Lia Ernst have been staff attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont since 2015. They have been arguing — and winning — precedent-setting cases that address racial profiling, government transparency, immigrant rights, prisoner rights and other issues. They discuss what’s at stake and why they fight. (July 3, 2019 broadcast)

Jay Diaz & Lia Ernst, staff attorneys, ACLU of Vermont


Made In Vermont: The Marriage Equality Revolution

lippert & amestoyVermont marriage equality trail blazers Rep. Bill Lippert & former Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, outside WDEV after The Vermont Conversation, July 8, 2015.

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples could wed throughout the country. The avalanche that swept America actually began as a snowball  high up in the Green Mountains in the late 1990s. In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in Baker v Vermont that the Vermont state legislature must craft a law granting all of the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples. In 2000, Vermont legalized civil unions, the most sweeping grant of rights to same-sex couples up to that time. In 2009, the Vermont state legislature legalized same-sex marriage, making it the first legislature to do so. We talk about Vermont’s role in the marriage equality revolution with some of the pioneers of that effort:

Former Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, author of the groundbreaking Baker v Vermont ruling.

State Representative Bill Lippert, who led the fight for passage of civil unions in 2000, and same sex marriage in 2009.

Susan Murray, attorney with Langrock Sperry & Wool, who represented the plaintiffs in Baker v Vermont, along with attorney Beth Robinson (now a Vermont Supreme Court judge).

Stacey Jolles & Nina Beck, a lesbian couple who were one of three same-sex couples who sued the State of Vermont in the late 1990s in Baker v Vermont, catalyzing the fight for marriage equality in Vermont, and in the U.S.