Same-sex marriage in Connecticut

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Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Connecticut since November 12, 2008, following a state court decision that found the state's civil unions failed to provide same-sex couples with rights and privileges equivalent to those of marriage. Connecticut was the second U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, after neighboring Massachusetts.

Civil unions[edit]

The state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provided same-sex couples with the same rights and responsibilities under state law as marriage, while also explicitly defining marriage as between one man and one woman. 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 of Representatives on April 13 in an 85–63 vote and by the Senate on April 20 in a 26–8 vote. Governor Jodi Rell signed the bill into law later the same day, and it went into effect on October 1, 2005.[1]

Prior to the passage of the civil union legislation, Connecticut had recognized same-sex relationships solely for the purpose of providing benefits to same-sex partners of state employees.[2]

Following the Supreme Court of Connecticut's October 2008 ruling which found that civil unions failed to provide same-sex couples with the rights and responsibilities of marriage, all existing civil unions were automatically transformed into marriages on October 1, 2010.[3]

Same-sex marriage[edit]


On April 11, 1991, the Connecticut (CT) House of Representatives (House) passed Substitute House Bill (sHB) 7133, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and credit, along with a provision prohibiting authorizing "the recognition of or the right of marriage between persons of the same sex. On April 17, 1991, the CT State Senate passed sHB 7133. On May 1, 1991, Governor (Gov) Lowell Weicker signed sHB 7133 into law and went into effect on October 1, 1991.[4]

On March 17, 2000, the CT Senate Human Services Committee adopted by a voice vote Amendment A, which states that "Nothing in this act shall be deemed to amend or modify other provisions of the general statutes with respect to marriage", as part of a Joint Favorable Substitute for sHB 5830. On April 28, 2000, the CT House adopted House Amendment Schedule A 4871, which defined the "current public policy of the state of Connecticut is now limited to a marriage between a man and a woman", to sHB 5830, a bill legalizing second-parent adoption. On April 29, 2000, CT House passed sHB 5830, by a vote 96 yeas and 51 nays. On May 3, 2000, the CT State Senate adopted House Amendment Schedule A 4871 and passed sHB 5830, by a vote 31 yeas and 5 nays. On June 1, 2000, it was signed into law by Gov John G. Rowland and went into effect on October 1, 2000. From October 1, 2000 to November 14, 2008 (8 years, 1 month and 13 days), same-sex marriage was statutorily prohibited in the Connecticut, the shortest statutory prohibition on same-sex marriage of any United States state.[5][6][7]

On April 13, 2005, addressing concerns raised by Gov Jodi Rell, the CT House adopted, by a vote of 80 yeas and 67 nays, House Amendment Schedule A 5446, which defined marriage as "the union of one man and one woman", to Substitute Senate Bill (sSB) 963, a bill legalizing civil unions. On that same day, CT House passed sSB 963, by a vote of 85 yeas and 63 nays. On April 20, 2005, the CT Senate adopted House Amendment Schedule A 5446 and passed sSB 963, by a vote of 26 yeas to 8 nays. On that same day, sSb 963 was signed into law by Gov Jodi, which went into effect on October 1, 2005.[8][9]

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,[10] passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27–15 on April 12, 2007. Governor Jodi Rell said she would veto any same-sex marriage legislation.[11] The bill was never submitted to the full House or Senate prior to the adjournment of the 2007 legislative session.

On April 22, 2009, Connecticut legislators, both in the House (by a 100–44 vote) and in the Senate (by a 28–7 vote), agreed to replace all statutory references to marriage with gender-neutral language. Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the law on April 23. The definition of marriage in Connecticut is now the following:[12]

Marriage means the legal union of two persons. [CT Gen Stat § 46b-20]

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.[13][14][15][16] Same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships from other jurisdictions are legally treated as marriages in Connecticut.[3]


Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health[edit]

In August 2004, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & 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. The couples, seven of whom had been denied marriage licenses in Madison, sued the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Madison registrar of vital statistics, Dorothy Dean. They argued that this discrimination violated the equality and liberty provisions of the Constitution of Connecticut 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 the plaintiffs, 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 did not violate the Connecticut Constitution.[17] 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 marriage rights to same-sex couples.[18][19] The court ruled 4–3 that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the equality and liberty provisions of the Constitution of Connecticut.[19] 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:

Despite the truly laudable effort of the legislature in equalizing the legal rights afforded same sex and opposite sex couples, there is no doubt that civil unions enjoy a lesser status in our society than marriage.

On November 12, 2008, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Connecticut. Among the first couples to obtain marriage licenses were plaintiffs in the Kerrigan case, Robin and Barbara Levine-Ritterman in New Haven, and Elizabeth Kerrigan and Joanne Mock-Kerrigan in West Hartford.[20][21] The court decision made Connecticut the third U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriage, but by the time the first same-sex marriages were solemnized in Connecticut, California voters had approved a same-sex marriage ban by referendum. Governor Rell reacted to the ruling by issuing the statement: "The Supreme Court has spoken. I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision - either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution - will not meet with success." State Senator Donald E. Williams Jr. called it a "civil rights victory".[22]

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 supported a November referendum on a proposal to convene a constitutional convention.[23][24] On November 4, 2008, voters opposed calling a constitution convention by a 2 to 1 margin.[25][26]

Mueller v. Tepler[edit]

On July 16, 2014, the Connecticut Supreme Court, reversing judgments in lower courts, ruled unanimously that a same-sex couple in a relationship established before the state afforded legal recognition to their relationship has the same rights as other married couples. In the case of Mueller v. Tepler, it allowed a woman to pursue a medical practice claim for the loss of income and companionship based on the care her female partner received between 2001 and 2004.[27]

Native American nations[edit]

Same-sex marriage has been legal on the reservation of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe since April 29, 2010. The Tribal Code states that "two persons may be joined in marriage" provided the parties are of marriageable age and meet all the legal requirements to marry. Marriages entered into outside the tribe's jurisdiction are valid if they are valid in the jurisdiction where they were entered into. Marriages performed under native Pequot custom, known as wuhsintamuwôk (pronounced [wʌhsɪntəmʌˈwɔ̃ːk]), are also recognized on the reservation.[28]

While there are no records of same-sex marriages as understood from a Western perspective being performed in Native American cultures, there is evidence for identities and behaviours that may be placed on the LGBT spectrum. Many of these cultures recognized two-spirit individuals who were born male but wore women's clothing and performed everyday household work and artistic handiwork which were regarded as belonging to the feminine sphere. This two-spirit status allowed for marriages between two biological males to be performed among some of these tribes.[29] In the Mohegan-Pequot language, two-spirit individuals are known as nis mucuhcôqak (pronounced [nɪs mʌtʃʌhˈtʃɔ̃ːkʷək]).[30]

Demographics and marriage statistics[edit]

Data from the 2000 U.S. census showed that 7,386 same-sex couples were living in Connecticut. By 2005, this had increased to 10,174 couples, likely attributed to same-sex couples' growing willingness to disclose their partnerships on government surveys. Same-sex couples lived in all counties of the state, and constituted 1.1% of coupled households and 0.6% of all households in the state. Most couples lived in Hartford, Fairfield and New Haven counties, but the counties with the highest percentage of same-sex couples were Litchfield (0.60% of all county households) and Hartford (0.59%). Same-sex partners in Connecticut were on average younger than opposite-sex partners, and more likely to be employed. In addition, the median household income of same-sex couples was higher than different-sex couples, but same-sex couples were far less likely to own a home than opposite-sex partners. 19% of same-sex couples in Connecticut were raising children under the age of 18, with an estimated 3,140 children living in households headed by same-sex couples in 2005.[31]

From 2009 to 2021, 13,766 same-sex marriages were performed in the state of Connecticut:[32] 543 in 2008, 2,706 in 2009, 1,791 in 2010, 1,262 in 2011, 668 in 2012, 1,356 in 2013, 1,057 in 2014, 689 in 2015, 704 in 2016, 672 in 2017, 639 in 2018, 617 in 2019, 549 in 2020, and 513 in 2021.[33] The Connecticut Department of Public Health has collected data on the county of occurrence of same-sex marriages since 2016, as shown below:[34]

Year Fairfield Hartford Litchfield Middlesex New Haven New London Tolland Windham Total
2016 145 174 41 32 181 88 19 24 704
2017 142 161 46 34 183 71 16 19 672
2018 140 141 35 43 167 65 26 22 639
2019 149 154 22 39 169 55 14 15 617
2020 155 133 28 21 132 50 15 15 549
2021 126 110 26 37 129 58 14 13 513

The 2020 U.S. census showed that there were 7,760 married same-sex couple households (3,432 male couples and 4,328 female couples) and 4,881 unmarried same-sex couple households in Connecticut.[35]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Connecticut
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
Public Religion Research Institute March 11 – December 14, 2022 ? ? 81% 18% 1%
Public Religion Research Institute March 8 – November 9, 2021 ? ? 77% 21% 1%
Public Religion Research Institute April 5 – December 23, 2017 659 random telephone
? 73% 20% 7%
Public Religion Research Institute May 18, 2016 – January 10, 2017 1,073 random telephone
? 70% 20% 10%
Public Religion Research Institute April 29, 2015 – January 7, 2016 872 random telephone
? 70% 24% 7%
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20 – October 1, 2014 1,284 likely voters ± 3.3% 61% 26% 13%
Public Religion Research Institute April 2, 2014 – January 4, 2015 565 random telephone
? 67% 26% 7%
Public Policy Polling July 26–29, 2012 771 voters ± 3.53% 55% 33% 12%
Public Policy Polling September 22–25, 2011 592 voters ± 4% 55% 32% 13%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute March 29 – April 4, 2005 1,541 registered voters ± 2.5% 42% 53% 6%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute May 26 – June 1, 2004 1,350 registered voters ± 2.7% 45% 50% 5%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute October 1–7, 2003 1,519 voters ± 2.5% 44% 50% 6%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Connecticut". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  2. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  3. ^ a b "GLAD guide to Connecticut Civil Unions" (PDF). GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  4. ^ sHB 7133
  5. ^ Substitute for Raised H.B. No. 5830
  6. ^ Statement of Governor M. Jodi Rell
  7. ^ Statement of Governor M. Jodi Rell on House Approval of Amendment to sSB 963
  8. ^ Connecticut House passes civil unions bill
  9. ^ Substitute for Raised S.B. No. 963
  10. ^ "Raised H.B. No. 7395". Connecticut General Assembly. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "CT. Lawmakers Gear Up For Nup Battle". Queerty. January 31, 2007. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  12. ^ "CHAPTER 815e MARRIAGE Sec. 46b-20. Definitions". Connecticut General Assembly. Archived from the original on April 11, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  13. ^ "Substitute for Raised S.B. No. 899 Session Year 2009". Connecticut General Assembly. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  14. ^ "An Act Implementing The Guarantee Of Equal Protection Under The Constitution Of The State For Same Sex Couples" (PDF). Connecticut General Assembly. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  15. ^ Matthews, Chase. "Connecticut Gov. signs gay marriage into law". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  16. ^ "Conn. gov. signs bill updating marriage laws". 365gay News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  17. ^ "Gay Couples Lose Connecticut Marriage Case". 365gay News. July 12, 2006. Archived from the original on July 2, 2008. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  18. ^ "Advance opinion from the Connecticut Supreme Court" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 30, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Michael Levenson and Andrew Ryan (October 10, 2008). "Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
  20. ^ Foderaro, Lisa (November 13, 2008). "Gay Marriages Begin in Connecticut". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  21. ^ Szep, Jason (November 12, 2008). "Gay weddings begin in Connecticut as debate rages". Reuters. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  22. ^ "Reactions on Conn.'s same-sex marriage ruling". The Bulletin. October 10, 2008.
  23. ^ Altimari, Daniela (September 29, 2008). "Rally Pushes Constitutional Convention". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  24. ^ Hladky, Gregory B. (November 3, 2008). "Conn. ballot masks a battle". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "Connecticut Voters Reject Convention, Preserve Marriage Equality". The Advocate. November 6, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  26. ^ Hladky, Gregory B. (November 7, 2008). "Newcomers Boost Democratic Numbers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  27. ^ Collins, Dave (July 16, 2014). "Connecticut Court Affirms Pre-Gay Marriage Rights". ABC News. AP. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  28. ^ "Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Code, Title 6: Family Relations" (PDF). Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  29. ^ Sabine Lang (1998). Men as women, women as men: changing gender in Native American cultures. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-74701-2.
  30. ^ "A Modern Mohegan Dictionary" (PDF). Mohegan Tribe. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2023.
  31. ^ "Census Snapshot" (PDF). Williams Institute. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  32. ^ How many same-sex marriages in the U.S.? At least 71,165, probably more
  33. ^ "Connecticut, Registration Report-Births, Deaths, and Marriages Calendar Year 2015" (PDF). July 2018.
  34. ^ "Vital Statistics (Registration Reports)". Connecticut State Department of Public Health. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023.
  35. ^ "PCT1405 Couple Households, By Type". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2023.