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Same-sex marriage in Connecticut

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Connecticut joined Massachusetts as one of two states in the U.S. to perform marriages of same-sex couples on November 12, 2008.[1] Connecticut was the third state to do so, but only the second where the decision was not repealed.

Background of the civil union billEdit

The state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provides same-sex couples with some of the same rights and responsibilities under state law as marriage. Connecticut became the second state in the United States (following Vermont) to adopt civil unions, and the first to do so without judicial intervention.

The decision to provide for civil unions and not same-sex marriage was controversial and was challenged in the state's courts. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage is also before the state legislature. On October 10, 2008, the Supreme Court of Connecticut, in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, ruled that failing to give same-sex couples the full rights, responsibilities and name of marriage was against the equal protection clause of the state's constitution, and ordered same-sex marriage legalized.[2][3]

The Connecticut Senate on April 6, 2005 voted 27-9 in favor of a bill providing for civil unions and affirming that marriage is between one man and one woman. Six of the Senate's 12 Republicans and 21 of the 24 Democrats voted for the bill. Six Republicans and three Democrats voted against it.

The Senate vote came after the bill cleared the powerful Judiciary Committee and after Governor Jodi Rell (a moderate Republican) gave her support to the measure. Governor Rell signed the bill into law on April 20, 2005, and it went into effect on October 1, 2005.

On October 1, 2010, all existing civil unions will be automatically transformed into marriages[4].

Same-sex marriage court caseEdit

In August 2004, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders representing eight gay couples from Connecticut, brought a legal action before the state's courts, challenging what they described as the state's discriminatory exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to marry. They argued that this discrimination violated the equality and liberty provisions of the Connecticut Constitution and are supported by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union. The case is opposed by the Family Institute of Connecticut, however they have been denied intervenor status in the case.

On July 12, 2006 a Superior Court judge court ruled against them arguing that:

Civil union and marriage in Connecticut now share the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law. ... The Connecticut Constitution requires that there be equal protection and due process of law, not that there be equivalent nomenclature for such protection and process.

The judge concluded that denying same-sex couples the right to marry does not violate Connecticut's Constitution.

The Supreme Court of Connecticut heard an appeal by the plaintiffs in the case, which is called Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, on May 14, 2007. The Attorney General's office represented the state in opposition to the appeal, but Attorney General Richard Blumenthal did not argue the case, sending a subordinate to represent the state. On October 10, 2008, the Court released an opinion[5] guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights.[2] The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that denying gays the right to marry was against the equality and liberty rules in the Connecticut Constitution.[2] The Court also held that it similarly would be unconstitutional to relegate same-sex couples to a status less than full marriage by enacting legislation treating same-sex unions as civil unions rather than marriage. On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, pursuant to the order and decision of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, the first marriages licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Connecticut.[6] At the time, it made Connecticut only the third state ever to recognize same-sex marriage;[7] on April 3, 2009. Soon after, Connecticut actually became the second state to allow same-sex marriage because of the passing of a same-sex marriage ban in California, just days before the first same-sex marriages were given in Connecticut. Iowa became the third state to recognize same-sex marriage when the Supreme Court of Iowa issued a decision in Varnum v. Brien, Docket No. 07-1499, overturning Iowa's statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, and, like the Supreme Court of Connecticut, holding that civil unions also would violate the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.[8] Critics contend that rulings granting same-sex couples the right to marry such as the Connecticut Supreme Court's decision in Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health overstep the constitutional authority of the judicial branch.[9][10] However, defenders argue that almost every civil rights disagreement in the U.S. has ultimately been decided by the courts, not in Congress.

The same-sex marriage billEdit

On January 31, 2007, State Senator Andrew J. McDonald and State Representative Michael Lawlor, Co-Chairpersons of the Judiciary Committee, announced the introduction of a bill that would give same-sex couples full marriage rights in the state of Connecticut. The bill, HB 7395,[11] successfully passed the judiciary committee by a vote of 27–15 on April 12, 2007. At the time, Connecticut became only the third state in U.S. history, after Massachusetts, then California, to have a legislative body vote in favor of same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage have said they want a non-binding public referendum on the issue, however not a single legislator, Democrat or Republican, introduced a bill that would have done so. When it was offered in committee as an amendment, it was defeated by a bipartisan vote.

Governor Jodi Rell had said she would veto any same-sex marriage legislation that came across her desk. She said the civil unions law "covered the concerns that have been raised".[12] The bill was never submitted to the full House or Senate prior to adjournment of the 2007 session, and it is superfluous because the October 2008 court decision mandated the right to same-sex marriage.

Updates to all marriage statutesEdit

On April 23, 2009 lawmakers of Connecticut both in the House (vote 100-44) and in the Senate (vote 28-7) agreed to repeal all the old marriage laws and fully replace them with genderless quotes and all references to marriage will be fully gender-neutral. Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the law. On October 1, 2010, civil unions will cease to be provided and existing civil unions will be automatically converted to marriages. Until then, existing civil unions will be kept and couples may "upgrade" to marriage voluntarily.[13] Same-sex marriages, civil unions and broad domestic partnerships from other jurisdictions will be legally treated as marriages in Connecticut[14].

Public opinion poll in April 2005Edit

A Quinnipiac University poll[15] released April 7, 2005, the day after the Senate approved civil unions, showed that 56% of registered voters were in support of their action, while 37% were opposed to it. The poll shows 42% approved same-sex marriage, while 53% opposed.

Democrats backed same-sex civil unions 66–29 percent and same-sex marriage 53–42 percent. Republicans were narrowly divided on civil unions, with 45 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed. But Republicans opposed same-sex marriage 70–26 percent. Independent voters supported civil unions 56–37 percent, but opposed same-sex marriage 52–42 percent.

Women voters supported civil unions 60–34 percent, but split 47–48 percent on same-sex marriage. Men backed civil unions 52–42 percent, but opposed same-sex marriage 59–36 percent.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Same-sex marriages to begin Nov. 12 in Connecticut. (via Associated Press) (11.04.2008). Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved on 2008-12-10.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Spencer, Mark; Alaine Griffin and Daniela Altimari. "High Court Grants Gay Marriage Rights", Hartford Courant, 2008-10-10. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  3. US state legalises gay marriage BBC News
  5. Advance opinion from the Connecticut Supreme Court
  6. U.S. News & World Report, "As Connecticut Allows Same-Sex Marriage, The Debate Continues In California," Evers, Jason
  7. Id
  8. Varnum v. Brien, Supreme Court of Iowa, Docket No. 07-1499 -
  9. George, Robert P.. "Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts". Retrieved on 13 September 2009.</cite>  </li>
  10. Holloway, Carson. Same-Sex Marriage and the Civil-Rights Movement: A Problematic Analogy. Retrieved on 13 September 2009. </li>
  11. See the official bill page and Advocates page. </li>
  12. Marriage Equality Bill Announced:Same-Sex Couples Seek the Freedom to Marry in Connecticut. Love Makes a Family (January 31, 2007). Retrieved on 2008-12-10. </li>
  13. Haigh, Susan. "Decade-long battle to allow gay marriage in Conn. will end with governor's expected signature", Associated Press, The San Francisco Examiner, 2009-06-20. Retrieved on 2009-06-25.  </li>
  14. "GLAD guide to Connecticut Civil Unions".  </li>
  15. Complete Poll Results. </li></ol>

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