Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Connecticut
2009-APR: Connecticut passes SSM law
Governor signs SSM legislation:
On the evening of 2009-APR-22, six months after SSM was legalized in
Connecticut by the state Supreme Court, the state House and Senate passed Senate Bill S.B. 899,
and approved amendments to the state marriage statutes. The bill passed
overwhelmingly: the vote in the Senate was
28 to 7; the vote in the House was 100 to 44. This brought the state marriage
laws into conformance with the court decision. The bill removed gender references from Connecticut marriage laws. Existing
same-sex civil unions will automatically become marriages on 2010-OCT-01.
The state also amends a state anti-discrimination law from 1991. That law
had preserved discrimination against sexual minorities by stating that Connecticut
|Condone "homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle,"|
|Require the teaching in schools that homosexuality or bisexuality was "...
an acceptable lifestyle."|
|Set quotas for hiring homosexual workers. or|
|Recognize same-sex marriage.|
Governor M. Jodi Rell (R) had said in the past that she believed marriage
should be restricted to one man and one woman. However, on the next day after S.B. 899
was passed, she signed the legislation into law without comment. Her decision to
make no comment is probably very wise, because any remark -- pro or
against -- would distress a substantial number of Connecticut voters. On
the other hand, she might have sent a message of approval by signing the bill
without delay -- less than 24 hours after its passage through the legislature.
Positive comments and reaction to the law:
Senator Andrew McDonald, (D-Stamford) said:
"Four years ago this week, Gov. Rell signed our groundbreaking civil-union
law, which had broad bipartisan support, Today, she signed another landmark
piece of bipartisan legislation affirming the rights and dignity of all
Connecticut's citizens. Today, all three branches of Connecticut's government
speak with one voice: Discrimination has no place in our state and will be
eradicated wherever it appears."
Representative Michael Lawlor, (D-East Haven), referred to a string of
legislation that started with the law almost a decade previously that allowed
same-sex couples to become co-parents in the adoption process. He said:
"I thank Governor Rell for helping our state take the final step in this
10-year-long process and for being fully supportive of our efforts to achieve
this important goal. For the first time, gay and lesbian citizens of Connecticut
can experience true equality under state law. ... For 10 years, the people of
Connecticut have considered whether and how to legally recognize the committed
relationships of same-sex couples. Over time, public opinion acknowledged a
simple fact: Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same recognition as committed
straight couples. At each milestone along this road, a bipartisan consensus
endorsed legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships."
As is usual for politicians and reporters, Lawlor assumed that all same-sex
couples are composed of two gays or two lesbians; he ignores bisexuals who also enter into same-sex
marriages, either with a homosexual or another bisexual person.
Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, a gay-positive civil
rights group, was pleased that the governor acted so quickly. She said:
"The approved bill includes reasonable exceptions to ensure religious
freedom for clergy and religious organizations, exceptions that already exist
in state law." 1
She also issued a statement that said. in part:
"This bipartisan vote is a strong affirmation of the Kerrigan decision and
the dignity and respect of same-sex couples and their families. Today,
fairness won out over fear." 2
Her mention of "Kerrigan" refers to the lawsuit (Kerrigan & Mock v. the
CT Department of Public Health) that led to the state Supreme Court
Comments that newspaper readers attached to articles on this topic
were overwhelmingly positive.
Amendment to protect continuing discrimination by faith groups:
The original bill did not include any protections for groups such as the
Knights of Columbus, who frequently rents halls for weddings and
wedding receptions. or for clergy who might not want to marry same-sex couples. An amendment was added to the bill that offers protections to clergy and
religious groups who wish to continue to discriminate against sexual minorities.
They can freely deny services, goods or facilities to same-sex
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut,
a group that opposes SSM, considered the amendment "a significant improvement.
" He said that: "It made a bad bill better." 3
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, a fundamentalist Christian legal advocacy
group, predicts that groups that promote marriage equality will try to have the
amendment repealed or will attempt to attack faith groups somehow by working around the
OneNewsNow (ONN) reports that a pro-family group --
presumably a group that has actively opposed families led by a same-sex couples
-- regards the amendment as imperfect, but agrees that the amended bill is a
significant advance in favor of religious liberty. They consider the supreme court's
2008 decision to be "illegitimate." 4 ONN did not identify the
name of the group.
Opposition to the bill:
Carol Gignac, a 62-year-old Roman Catholic from Bristol, CT wore a sticker that
said: "Religious liberty: Our freedom first." She said that she was praying
much of the day for God to show mercy on Connecticut, and presumably not display his
wrath towards the legislators who voted in favor of the bill or towards the
general public. She said:
"The sad day was [when] the state Supreme Court changing the thousands-of-years
definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, across cultures, across
Matt Barber said:
"It's unfortunate that these legislators would go with the pop-culture
notion of same-sex marriage, really in opposition to the will of the people.
... This really should go on a ballot initiative. In every instance where the
people have had a say as to radically redefine natural marriage and introduce
counterfeit marriage, in every instance the people have voted to maintain the
definition of natural marriage." 4
On 2009-APR-28, three members of the Westboro
Baptist Church in Topeka, KS came to Hartford, CT to protest the state Supreme
Court ruling that legalized SSM in 2008. The Church has been included in the
list of hate groups maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The
Westboro Baptist church is well know for its God Hates Fags web site,
and its picketing and disruptions at funerals of service men and women. Their
belief is that God is arranging the deaths of armed forces personnel as
punishment for the nation's acceptance of homosexuality.
They attracted about a half-dozen
counter-protestors, at least ten law enforcement officials. There is no record
in the media of any supporters. Tara Crawford, 32, a
counter-protestor, said: "We wanted to answer hate with something positive.
Joshua Demers, 29, another counter-protestor, said: "More love, less hate."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Ken Dixon, "Rell signs gay marriage bill. Aligns statutes with court
ruling," The Stamford Advocate, 2009-APR-23, at:
- "Gov. Rell Signs Gay Marriage Bill," The Hartford Courant, 2009-APR-23, at:
- Susan Haigh, :Connecticut Assembly votes to redefine marriage," OneNewsNow,
- Charlie Butts, "Conn. 4th state to legalize same-sex 'marriage'," One News
Now, 2009-APR-24. at:
http://www.onenewsnow.com/ Social and religious conservatives often show the
word marriage in quotation marks when referring to same-sex marriage. This is to
indicate their rejection of SSM and equivalent to opposite-sex marriage.
- Daniela Altimari, "Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church Protests Gay Marriage
Law," The Harford Courant, 2009-APR-28, at:
Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2009-APR-24
Latest update: 2009-APR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson