Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Connecticut
Lawsuit seeking full marriage
rights. Public opinion poll.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
- 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
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
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Elizabeth Kerrigan et al, v. State of Connecticut," at:
"GLAD Files Suit to End Connecticut's Exclusion of Lesbian and Gay Couples
from Marriage Rights." GLAD, 2004-AUG-25, at:
"Connecticut Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law," Human Rights Campaign,
"Kerrigan & Mock et al. v. Connecticut Dept. of Public Health: Questions &
Answers," GLAD, at:
Anne Stanback, "Marriage bill not going forward; great progress made in
2007," Love Makes a Family Connecticut, 2007-MAY, at:
"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:
Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First posted: 2008-OCT-13
Latest update: 2008-OCT-13
Author: B.A. Robinson