Same-sex marriage in Connecticut
|Legal recognition of
† Not yet in effect
The state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provides same-sex couples with 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 bill was passed by the House on April 13 and by the Senate on April 20. Governor Jodi Rell signed the bill into law later the same day, and it went into effect on October 1, 2005.
The decision to provide for civil unions and not same-sex marriage was challenged in state court. 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 violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution, and ordered same-sex marriage legalized.
On October 1, 2010, all existing civil unions were automatically transformed into marriages.
In August 2004, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) representing eight same-sex couples from Connecticut filed a lawsuit in state court, 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 were supported by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union. The case was opposed by the Family Institute of Connecticut, which was denied intervenor status in the case.
On July 12, 2006, a Superior Court judge ruled against them finding 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 Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health on May 14, 2007. On October 10, 2008, the court released an opinion guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights. The Court ruled 4-3 that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the equality and liberty rules in the Connecticut Constitution. The court also held that it 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 November 12, 2008, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Connecticut. At the time, it made Connecticut the third state to recognize same-sex marriage. Soon after, Connecticut 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 solemnized in Connecticut.
Before the Court issued its decision, a coalition of groups that included such opponents of same-sex marriage as the state's Roman Catholic bishops and the Family Institute of Connecticut was hoping that voters would approve a November referendum that would convene a constitutional convention. On November 4, voters opposed calling of a constitution convention by a 2 to 1 margin.
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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, passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27–15 on April 12, 2007. At the time, Connecticut became only the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to have a legislative body vote in favor of same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage said they wanted a non-binding public referendum on the issue, however no legislator 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. She said the civil unions law "covered the concerns that have been raised". The bill was never submitted to the full House or Senate prior to adjournment of the 2007 session.
Updates to all marriage statutes
On April 22, 2009, Connecticut legislators, both in the House (vote 100-44) and in the Senate (vote 28-7), agreed to replace all statutory references to marriage with gender-neutral language. Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the law on April 23. On October 1, 2010, civil unions ceased to be performed, and existing civil unions were automatically converted into marriages. Before that date, couples in existing Connecticut civil unions could convert them to marriages voluntarily. Same-sex marriages, civil unions and broad domestic partnerships from other jurisdictions are legally treated as marriages in Connecticut.
A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll, conducted between May 26 and June 1, 2004, found that 45% of Connecticut voters supported same-sex marriage, 50% opposed. 59% supported civil unions, 35% were against.
A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll 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.
According to a February 2007 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll 39% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, 33% supported civil unions, 22% opposed to recognition of same-sex unions
A December 2008 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll found that 52% of respondents approved the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage, 39% disapproved. 61% opposed amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, 33% supported it.
A September 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 55% of Connecticut voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 32% thought it should be illegal and 13% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 81% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 47% supporting same-sex marriage, 34% supporting civil unions, 16% opposing all legal recognition and 3% not sure.
A July 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 55% of Connecticut voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 33% thought it should be illegal and 12% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 88% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 51% supporting same-sex marriage, 37% supporting civil unions, 11% opposing all legal recognition and 1% not sure.
- LGBT rights in Connecticut
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage in New England
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
- Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state
- Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state
- Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
- History of civil marriage in the United States
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