Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled today that gay couples have the right to marry. The ruling makes Connecticut the third state behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions. It’s a second victory for gay rights to have taken place in Connecticut; in 2005 the state was the first in the Union to voluntarily pass laws to affirm civil unions.
Today’s ruling in Connecticut comes just weeks before Californians go to the polls on a historic gay-marriage ballot question, the first time the issue will be put before voters in a state where same-sex couples are legally wed.
Proposition 8, an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election ballot titled “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry,” would, if passed, change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. A new section would be added stating, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Of course, if Proposition 8 is defeated it will be a major victory in the struggle for civil rights for gay people. Indeed, I believe we will have turned a page from which there would be no going back.
Anyway, following are highlights from the Associated Press’ coverage of today’s ruling in Connecticut:
[Today’s] 4-3 ruling is the first time that a state that had willingly offered an alternative to marriage was told by a court that civil unions aren’t enough to protect the rights of gay couples. Connecticut was the first state to voluntarily pass laws to affirm civil unions.
“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.
“I’m just ecstatic. It’s such a relief, the joy of it,” said another plaintiff, Jody Mock [left, background] of West Hartford, who sued with partner Elizabeth Kerrigan.
In the majority opinion, Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote that denying marriage to same-sex couples would create separate standards.
“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,” Palmer wrote.
. . . The lawsuit was brought in 2004 after eight same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses and sued, saying their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process were violated. They said the state’s marriage law, if applied only to heterosexual couples, denied them of the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage.
Supreme courts in Massachusetts and California also have ruled in favor of gay and lesbian couples, concluding the domestic partnerships were unequal to the rights given in heterosexual marriage.
Civil unions and a similar arrangement, known as domestic partnerships, are offered to same-sex couples in Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Hawaii, Maine, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Peck said that as soon as the decision was announced, the couple started crying and hugging while juggling excited phone calls from her brother and other friends and family.
“We’ve always dreamed of being married,” she said. “Even though we were lesbians and didn’t know if that would ever come true, we always dreamed of it.”
Recommended Off-site Links:
Another Victory for Equality, Liberty, and Justice for ALL – D. Stephen Heersink (Gay Species, October 10, 2008).
How Will Connecticut Ruling Affect California Amendment Battle? - Bill Browning (BilericoProject.com, October 10, 2008).
Vote “No” on Prop 8
California Warning Sign – Stephen H. Miller (Independent Gay Forum, October 7, 2008).
La Opinión Says No to Prop 8 – Timothy Kincaid (Box Turtle Bulletin, October 9, 2008).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Priest’s Courageous Act
The Same People
What Straights Can Learn from Gay Marriage
Good News from the Golden State
Love is Love
The Changing Face of “Traditional” Marriage
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
The Real Gay Agenda
Civil Unions and Christian Tradition
Separate is Not Equal
Mainstream Voice of “Dear Abby” Supports Gay Marriage
New Studies: Gay Couples as Committed as Straight Couples
This “Militant Secularist” Wants to Marry a Man
Good News from Minnesota
Image 1: Janet Peck, left, her partner, Carol Conklin, John Anderson, third from left, and Garret Stack arrive at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 held to comment on a ruling earlier Friday by the Connecticut State Supreme Court on gay marriage. Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay couples have the right to marry, making the state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
Image 2: Elizabeth Kerrigan, foreground, and her partner, Joanne Mock smile as they listen to speeches at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 on a ruling the the Connecticut Supreme Court on gay marriage. Their twin sons, Fernando, left, and Carlos, right, stand with Kerrigan and Mock. (AP Photo/Bob Child)