With today’s ruling, the New England state becomes the third US state to grant marriage equality. Massachusetts and California, respectively, were the first and second states to declare that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the arena of civil marriage. Read the ruling here.
“This is a momentous victory for the people of Connecticut and all Americans who hold fairness as a fundamental value. The high court’s analysis comes down to this simple yet profound principle: All of Connecticut’s families deserve and need the protections, rights and responsibilities that support and sustain them, and should be treated equally under the law,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. ”We thank the plaintiffs for their courage and our colleagues at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and their cooperating counsel for their outstanding advocacy on behalf of our community. We also applaud the years of work undertaken by our state partner, Love Makes a Family, which played a central role in creating a climate in Connecticut that made today’s historic opinion possible.”
The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut’s civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.
“I can’t believe it. We’re thrilled, we’re absolutely overjoyed. We’re finally going to be able, after 33 years, to get married,” said Janet Peck of Colchester, who was a plaintiff with her partner, Carole Conklin.
Justices overturned a lower court ruling and found in favor of the plaintiffs, who said the state’s marriage law discriminates against them because it applies only to heterosexual couples, therefore denying gay couples the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage.
“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in the majority opinion that overturned a lower court finding.
“To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others,” Palmer wrote.
Connecticut already permitted same-sex civil unions that grant largely the same state rights as to married couples, but lack the full, federal legal protections of marriage.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday that she disagreed with the court’s ruling, but will not fight the ruling.
This makes the stakes for defeating California’s Proposition 8, which would eradicate same-sex marriage, that much higher. We surely can expect that right-wing religionistas in Connecticut will take up the fight to keep discrimination legal there.