The Connecticut Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision on Oct 10 that found it unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. The court also found that civil unions, available to gay couples in the state since 2005, are unequal.
When the decision was issued, Connecticut became the third state in the U.S. to allow gay marriage, after Massachusetts and California. However, with the ballot initiative passing in California on Nov 4, the count is down to two. Out-of-state couples can marry in both states.
No state has legalized gay marriage via its legislature yet.
Eight same-sex couples, many of them in relationships for decades and raising children, were plaintiffs in the Connecticut case, Kerrigan and Mock v. the Connecticut Department of Public Health. A lower court judge had ruled in 2006 that excluding gay couples from marriage rights did not violate the state constitution.
Marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples in Connecticut beginning the week of Nov 10.
Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell said she disagreed with the recent ruling, but believed that attempts to overturn the court’s decision through legislation or an amendment to the state constitution would not be successful.
The Family Institute of Connecticut may be attempting to push for an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.
Democratic State Senator Michael Lawlor, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he expects the General Assembly to pass a gay marriage law next year, which would codify the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Shortly after the decision, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued an opinion stating that it would be illegal for justices of the peace to refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of their sexual orientation. Justices of the peace could refuse to perform civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples under the civil union law.
Connecticut will continue to grant both same-sex marriages and civil unions, and recognize those granted in other states.
Civil unions and domestic partnerships are currently available to same-sex couples in Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Hawaii, Maine, Washington and the District of Columbia.