The USA’s first couple to have a civil union have split up, in what gay campaigners are calling a fine example of how the law works.

Vermont was the first US state to introduce a civil union law in 2000 and Carolyn Conrad and Kathleen Peterson, immediately jumped at the chance to register their partnership.

But a judge officially dissolved the union yesterday.

Beth Robinson, chairwoman of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, told the Associated Press, “One of the goals was to create a mechanism to protect people in a relationship and create a mechanism to help people dissolve relationships.”

“Same-sex relationships are no different than heterosexual relationships. Sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t.”

Civil Union laws currently exist in Connecticut and Vermont, while New York, California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Alaska and Colorado offer domestic partnerships.

Massachusetts is the only US state to all same sex partners to marry.