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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Former Rep. Marion Milne Dies

Former legislator Marion Milne died Monday at her home in Washington, Vt.  She was 79.

Marion Milne served six years in the House of Representatives and is best known for the vote that ended her political career.

A Vermont Supreme Court ruling in December of 1999 set in motion the deliberations and often acrimonious public debate over civil unions for same-sex couples.

As the Republican Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee former Shelburne Representative Tom Little was a chief architect of the Civil Unions legislation. 

Little says Milne quickly decided to support the effort despite the opposition of a majority of her constituents.

“Marion came to a quiet conclusion relatively early on and was at peace with herself over it,” he says.

Little says Milne knew her decision might mean her defeat in the following election,  which it did.

Swanton Republican John Edwards encountered similar opposition and the same fate when he voted for Civil Unions.

Edwards remembers that Milne’s vocal support for the legislation helped bolster his resolve.

"She is one of the people who helped bring Vermont forward" - former House Judiciary Chairman Tom Little.

“She would often speak on the floor that she wanted her grandchildren to be proud of her,” says Edwards. “Her resolve certainly gave me, and I presume others, the strength to carry forward.”

“Take Vermont Forward” was the phrase that appeared on signs and bumper stickers in response to the “Take Back Vermont”  slogan used by those who opposed Civil Unions.

Tom Little says Milne will be remembered as someone who put her principles above her politics in the interest of progress.

“She is one of the people who helped bring Vermont forward,” says Little.” That refrain will be mentioned more than once in these next couple of days.”

Milne didn’t return to politics after the 2000 elections, but she did return to the Statehouse. 

In 2009 she was there to express her support when the House overrode a gubernatorial veto to pass a same-sex marriage law. 

"I was thrilled and I think it's a civil rights issue and the state of Vermont has done a wonderful thing today and I'm very happy," Milne said on that occasion.  

After her 2000 defeat, Milne went back to the travel agency she co-founded with her husband Don Milne who is also clerk of the Vermont House.

She is survived by her husband, three children and eight grandchildren.

Her son Scott Milne is a Republican Gubernatorial candidate.

Services for Marion Milne will be held Friday, Aug. 15 at 10:30 AM at the First Presbyterian Church, 19 S. Seminary St., in Barre.