Connecticut Rules In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

In a major civil liberties ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to get married. While conservatives like Sarah Palin have insisted that we should leave questions like abortion to the states, this ruling is likely to increase calls for a federal constitutional amendment to prevent states from deciding the question as a matter of federalism.

As Sarah Palin might say, Joanne Mock Beth Kerrigan are gettin’ hitched. They are among the plaintiffs that have won that right in the state of Connecticut. This is now the third state after Massachusetts and California to rule in this way. Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey have civil unions.

In addition to the constitutional amendment debate, courts may face new efforts under the full faith and credit clause to force states to recognize these marriages in states that restrict marriage to the union of a man and woman.

For the majority opinion, click here. For the dissenting opinions, click here and here and here.
For the full story, click here.

15 thoughts on “Connecticut Rules In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage”

  1. Leo – It’s a legal protection issue. The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No state shall …deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” If you have two couples, one heterosexual and one homosexual, and you tell one they can marry and one they cannot, then the legal rights of the one that cannot are NOT being protected on an equal basis with the couple that can. Civil unions are not the same as marriage and to deny to a group of people the right to marry is wrong – separate is not equal; it is separate. And it is unconstitutional.
    (I’m not a lawyer, so I may be misinterpreting, but that’s what I believe the legal, and correct, argument is.)

  2. RC, I make more than my share of errors.

    Given the importance of the ‘marriage’ question I still prefer no differences between States, however the decision goes, whether civil union or marriage, for all. I will, of course, accept the majority rule.

  3. >I simply prefer to keep the tradition of marriage as it stands now >for the majority of humans in the USA as the union of one man and >one woman and then I prefer civil unions for gays and lesbians.

    First of all my apologies for my lapse of vocabulary and causing some confusion. When you initially wrote that you view marriage as a “secular legal contract”, my wee brain mistakenly read that as “sectarian legal” and I couldn’t wrap my head around that phrase. My error.

    To the quote above. I respect that you PREFER a traditional approach to marriage, but you began this thread by wanting to delve into the legal justifications for same sex marriage. I tried to present some of those in my first response. I guess my Cracker Jack box issued law degree didn’t overwhelm you. I was trying to make the point about what I believe are the two pertinent Constitutional issues of “seperate but equal” and “equal treatment” provisions.

    Your last response is, I assume, your answer to my question of whether you would accept a civil union status for your own marriage. If I assumed correctly that your response is that you prefer a traditional marriage contract for heterosexuals and something different, something less, for same-sex couples you smack right into the Constutional issues I mentioned. If you do not consider civil unions to be something less, then it must be the same. And if it’s the same, why can’t it be marriage? If we say yes to same sex marriage equality now, there will come a time when it also is considered traditional.

    Your answer also indicates an unwillingness to accept the civil union status for yourself. Again, not wanting to call your own marriage a civil union infers that in your eyes a civil union has a different definition and/or a different set of rights, privleges and obligations than a “traditional” marriage. I’m not certain what those differences are other than to judge gays by a different standard and relegate them to a different class of citizenship This would be highly prejudical and I don’t sense that’s your motivation. If you felt they held equal status, one would think your response would be to say it didn’t matter which term is used. To my ears, that strikes a disquieting tinge of Jim Crow.

    In short, if you prefer a two tier system of defining marriage there are serious Constitutional and civil rights questions to deal with. If you see that the rights, privleges and obligations of a civil union are equal (the same) to those of a traditional marriage, then, in fact, you have accepted that there be only one type of union. Either everyone has a civil union or everyone has a traditional marriage because equal is equal—or else it isn’t.

  4. I’ve discovered there are two types of people in this world.

    Those who wish to live and let live.

    And those who want to tell everyone else how to live.

  5. Former Federal LEO
    1, October 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I simply prefer to keep the tradition of marriage as it stands now for the majority of humans in the USA as the union of one man and one woman and then I prefer civil unions for gays and

    So your “preferences” should determine what other people can do with their lives?

    Your personal preferences supercede other peoples rights to live, love and enjoy life in the way they choose?

    I am curious as to what blessed star you were born under that provides you with this birthright to impose your own narrow preferences into the personal lives of others.

    I am curious why others should wallow in despair, longing for something that in no way diminishes you, or anyone else, simply because you “prefer it”.

  6. Therefore, I view marriage as a nonreligious (secular) legal contract.

  7. Secular means “not religious or spiritual in nature” Therefore, I view marriage as a nonreligious legal contact.

    I simply prefer to keep the tradition of marriage as it stands now for the majority of humans in the USA as the union of one man and one woman and then I prefer civil unions for gays and lesbians.

  8. LEO

    >secular legal…

    I’m unfamiliar with this term. Are there examples? It strikes me as an oxymoron on it’s face. But, I also confused by how an atheist comes to accept anything as secular. Perhaps I’m a little slow this morning. Please allow me to ask again if you would agree to a “Civil Union” for your own marriage?

  9. Thanks for the good social arguments.

    I am most interested in a possible resolution of this issue as a legal argument regarding the U.S. Constitution. I think the Supreme Court’s decision to defer to each States’ resolution of the marriage/civil union question is as untenable as it would be for Roe v. Wade-type decisions. This should be a U.S. Constitutional decision and not the result of State-by-State ambiguousness.

    RC, I also view marriage as a secular legal contract.

  10. The best advice is to get government out of the sanctioning of religious ceremonies business period. Marriages are social contracts available to all regardless of religiosity or the lack thereof. It gets intermingled with religious concepts of “holy unions” and the average Joe things the government somehow sanctions the rite. Let’s call legal marriages what they are: partnership contracts with all the attendant duties and obligations. Why anyone cares what they are called bewilders me, since we know what the duties are in any event. Would anyone, anywhere, question the right of two homosexuals to partner together to open a car wash or urban boutique? Why would anyone care if they partner to provide love and companionship? Let’s all get out of the “telling-other-consenting-adults-how-to-privately-behave” business, and that goes for our government, too!

  11. LEO

    I am not an attorney either, but the legal concepts of “…equal treatment under the law…” and “seperate but equal” seem to be the conflict here. Since the US Supreme Court (and those in MA, CA and now CT) has ruled, quite rightly one thinks, that “seperate but equal” isn’t equal and therefore isn’t Constitutional. We also need to seperate the legal/civil aspect of marriage from the religious.

    As an fellow atheist, I’m sure you’ll agree that a marriage ceremony conducted at City Hall and presided over by a judge or other officer of the court, is a valid legal marriage and equal in that legality to one conducted in a church and/or by a cleric of a given faith—regardless of the sex (or sexes) of the participants. Therefore, it seems to me, that fact confirms that the marriage “conntract” is a civil, not religious ceremony. As such, creating a “civil union” as a seperate sub-category which, by its very nature, deliberately institutionalizes a set of discriminatory constructs that would seem patently un-Constitutional. It would be far more Constitutionally correct if ALL marriages were “civil unions”. A question: Would YOU accept a “civil union” as a substitute for your marriage contract? If not, you’re on the road to a deeper understanding of the issue.

    The idea that homosexual marriage somehow infringes on or dilutes anyone else’s legal marriage is nearly impossible to defend on a purely legal basis. That position is almost exclusively held by theists as an extention of their religious beliefs. If a marriage is to be considered more of a religious ceremony than a civil one, as discussed above, then what happens to us atheists’ marriages? Is my marriage only a civil union because I’m an atheist? Or is it simply not recognized by a churchly organization that I don’t recognize as having any juristition in the first place? Whereas, all the US states and I mutually recognize my marriage as a legal contract. A church need not be involved to legalize the marriage, so the conflict between the non-sectarian concepts of “seperate but equal” vs “equal treatment” can be resolved quickly in the favor of legal equality.

  12. Mr. LEO,

    I’m as confused as the previous poster. You said you were interested in the legal arguments, I’m sorry but I am ill equiped to offer such specialized opinions. However, perhaps you could answer a question of mine. What is the legal basis for gay ‘marriage’ infringing on heterosexuals’ rights? Is there a right for heterosexuals to have there own seperate and distinct unions? If so, are they a better class of people, or just a different class of people?

    I personally believe that to insist on calling it something different is akin to ‘seperate but equal,’ which is famously ‘not equal.’ If there exists a reason to distinguish the two unions from each other for purposes other than simple class division I am unaware of its existence.

  13. Atheist LEO,

    What right of heterosexuals is infringed by recognizing the union of any two consenting adult individuals as marriage?

    I’m not sure I follow the separately-named-but-legally-equal argument you’re making. Is this problematic simply because society has not recognized these marriages in the past? Is it a problem because the state is acknowledging that intimate relationships exist between members of the same gender?

    Would you be in favor of the state condemning use of the term “marriage” by religious organizations if they involved same-sex couples? Should the press be free to print “marriage” announcements if it involves same-sex couples, or does this infringe on heterosexual rights?

    No one is forcing religious organizations to perform marriages. No one is removing rights of married heterosexuals. This decision in Connecticut rights a very basic wrong and is an obvious and correct outcome to your fellow atheist.

    Better yet: get the government out of the business of licensing marriages at all. These license laws were put on the books in the first place to restrict interracial marriage, and we would do well to be rid of them entirely. If they remain in place they may one day be used to allow clever legislators a vehicle to compel drug testing in order to get a marriage license, or perhaps for DNA registration to check for undesirable genetic outcomes for offspring, or countless other invasions of personal privacy.

  14. Let me get this out of the way first: I am a conservative Republican who is voting for Obama/Biden. I am a father and I am an unabashed atheist.

    Now: Why can’t gay and lesbian couples become conjoined in a ‘civil union’, with all the legal rights, while allowing traditional marriages for heterosexual couples to standalone and remain uncontested?

    Why infringe on heterosexuals’ rights through forcing the issue by demanding the term marriage to ‘fulfill’ homosexual unions?

    I am only interested in the legal issues involved and not social opinions. That is, can’t gays and lesbians have the same legal rights as heterosexuals without calling their relationship marriage?

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