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Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Connecticut

Lawsuit seeking full marriage
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2004-AUG-25 to 2006-JUN-12: Lawsuit:

Seven same-sex couples applied for marriage certificates in the town of Madison, CT on 2004-AUG-23. Each was in a loving, committed relationship that had endured from 13 to 31 years. Each was seeking a civil, not a religious marriage. Six of the eight couples are raising young children. Each couple met all of the requirements for marriage in the state, except for their sex. The clerk refused to issue licenses to the couples, citing an opinion of the Attorney General dated MAY-17.

The couples filed a lawsuit (Kerrigan & Mock v. the CT Department of Public Health) 1 on 2004-AUG-25 in New Haven Superior Court with the assistance of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) of Boston, MA. This is the same group who had previously won marriage rights in Massachusetts and civil union rights in Vermont.

A news release by GLAD states:

"In the current case, five of the seven couples have young children; some have faced health issues and worry about being denied access to one other in times of crisis. While all the couples are concerned about receiving the full range of protections that only flow through marriage, many also believe that only marriage will convey the depth and commitment of their relationships to their families and the world at large." 2

Teresa C. Younger, Executive Director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union stated:

"This case is about American citizens who pay taxes, vote, walk their dogs, wash their cars, own homes, and raise children. Our plaintiffs, American gay men and lesbians, are entitled to the same protections and rights as other Americans. The American dream is embedded in equality and fairness, and marrying the one you love is part of the American dream. No one should be denied that right." 2

Mary Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Director said:

"Each of the couples in this case is responsible to each other, their children and the larger community ... They share a great deal in common with other families in Connecticut. They are schoolteachers and parents and therapists. One mother coaches soccer. Others volunteer in their communities or children's schools. Like all married couples, they have made a commitment to each other for life. Yet, because they are denied marriage rights, none of them can fully protect themselves, their relationship, or their children." 2

In their complaint, the plaintiffs noted many impediments because they were unable to marry, including:

  • Difficulties visiting their partners in hospitals.
  • Financial restrictions in sharing ownership of their home.
  • Problems obtaining house mortgages.
  • Inability to purchase a two-person health insurance policy.
  • Lack of protection and security for their children.
  • Inability to share retirement benefits.
  • Problems with international travel. 1

The plaintiffs claimed that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated the equal protection and due process provisions defined in section 1, 8, 10, and 20 of the state constitution. It also violated the rights of "intimate and expressive association" in articles 4,5 and 14. 1

Two town clerks and the Connecticut Family Institute filed motions to intervene in the case. Both were denied. GLAD filed an amicus curia (friend of the court) brief signed by 25 individuals. In opposition, the Attorney General filed four amici briefs.

The case was heard on 2006-MAR-21. By then, the civil union law had been signed into law, giving the plaintiffs the option of entering a civil union and obtaining some of the benefits of marriage.

On 2006-JUN-12, Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman denied the plaintiffs' motion. The case was then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. 3

2007-APRIL & MAY: Marriage Equality bill:

In 2007-APR, the House Judiciary Committee passed "An Act Concerning Marriage Equality." which would, if signed into law, allow same-sex couples to marry in the state. 4

Anne Stanback, Executive Director of Love Makes a Family, Connecticut announced in 2007-MAY that the bill would not proceed to a vote in the House. The legislative sponsors of the bill decided that they did:

 "... not quite have sufficient votes we needed in the House to advance the bill this session. ... Constituent house meetings with legislators, participation in our Lobby Day, letters and op-eds to your local newspapers, door-to-door canvassing, phone calls, e-mails ... all of these things made a difference in changing the hearts and minds of legislators. And, according to recent polls, there is tremendous momentum in moving public opinion here in Connecticut. But momentum is not inevitability and it is imperative that we continue to be vocal and be visible. We still must win those remaining votes in the legislature, as well as convince Governor Rell that treating all Connecticut families fairly is the right thing to do." 5

Even if most legislators in the House and Senate had passed the bill in view of the increasing support for same-sex marriage by the voters of Connecticut, Governor Rell (R) had promised to veto it. An override of the veto would take two-thirds vote of the members of the House and Senate -- an impossible task in 2007.

2007-FEB public opinion poll:

Quinnipiac University conducted a poll of 1,087 registered voters in Connecticut between FEB-09 and 12. The margin of error is 3 percentage points. Results were:

  • 39% say gays should be allowed to legally marry;
  • 33% say gays should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry;
  • 22% say there should be no legal recognition of a same-sex union. That is, loving committed same-sex couples should be considered as merely roommates.
  • 6% have no opinion or did not respond.

The question was not well worded. Not every same-sex couple consists of two gay persons. Some are composed of one gay and one bisexual; others consist of two bisexuals. We recommend the term "same-sex marriage" in place of "gay marriage."

Poll director Douglas Schwartz noted a factor that has been seen throughout North America: "On the same-sex marriage issue, there is a big difference by age. The older people are, the more opposed they are to same-sex marriage." 6

Later developments on the Supreme Court case

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Elizabeth Kerrigan et al, v. State of Connecticut," at: **
  2. "GLAD Files Suit to End Connecticut's Exclusion of Lesbian and Gay Couples from Marriage Rights." GLAD, 2004-AUG-25, at:
  3. "Connecticut Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law," Human Rights Campaign, undated, at:
  4. "Kerrigan & Mock et al. v. Connecticut Dept. of Public Health: Questions & Answers," GLAD, at:
  5. Anne Stanback, "Marriage bill not going forward; great progress made in 2007," Love Makes a Family Connecticut, 2007-MAY, at:
  6. "Connecticut Voters Like Gov Rell, But Not Tax Hike, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Mixed On Gay Marriage, Civil Unions," Quinnipiac University, 2007-FEB-15, at:

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Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > SSM/Civil unions > CT > here

Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2008-OCT-13
Latest update: 2008-OCT-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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