Connecticut Court Declares Same Sex Marriage Legal

flag-rainbow1On the heels of a major political defeat in California with the passage of Proposition 8, Connecticut Judge Johnathan Silbert has handed the movement a victory in kind: declaring same-sex or “gay marriage” legal in the state. Couples are reportedly rushing to the courthouse to take advantage of the ruling. This makes Connecticut the only other state (with Massachusetts) to recognize same-sex marriage.

According to the state public health department, there have been 2,032 civil union licenses issued in Connecticut between Oct. 2005 and July 2008.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, after defending the state law, said that his office will now be equally aggressive in caring out the ruling: “Today is historic legally and culturally and socially. My office vigorously defended state law, including the civil unions statute, but we have to put aside our past positions and personal opinions to make sure the law is vigorously enforced and defended and the court’s decision is implemented as smoothly as possible.”

On October 10, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that same-sex couples have the right to wed rather than accept a civil union law designed to give them the same rights as married couples. The new licenses will be changed so that, instead of “bride” and “groom,” it says “bride/groom/spouse.”

Last week, Connecticut voters rejected the idea of a constitutional convention to amend the state’s constitution.

This does create an interesting overlap since the state’s 2005 civil union law will remain on the books. I have long advocated that the solution to this debate is to get rid of “marriage” licenses and have everyone receive a civil union — which is closer to the function of the state recording of such unions.

The Connecticut ruling will add pressure to arguments under the Full Faith and Credit Clause for other states to recognize these licenses.

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15 thoughts on “Connecticut Court Declares Same Sex Marriage Legal”

  1. Mespo,

    I was too involved in current events surrounding marriage and my non-answer to your question showed that – sorry.

    The State’s interest in regulating marriage is long, somewhat convoluted, and varied:

    It was originally based on the political needs of maintaining the integrity of the nation. The first interest that the government had in marriage was outlawing polygamy. This was in response to the Mormons’ open, but at that time non-violent rebellion against the authority of the US government.

    Later the state’s interest grew into further “negative rights” involving divorce, property, and child support. The government needed to register marriages so that women had objective record of their marriages in the event of needing divorce or being abandoned without support.

    Still later the state offer positive incentives towards marriage in the form of tax laws. This further stressed the need for registration of marriages and their dissolution.

    There you go, Mespo. I somewhat more pertinent answer to the question you asked.

  2. jonolan:

    Not sure I follow but if you are suggesting that the government gets its authority to regulate associations from the electorate, I see no basis in law or democratic political philosophy for that statement. Maybe you can elaborate. I am not certain the majority gets to regulate human associations either.

  3. Mespo,

    Most often by the authority of the electorate. Occasionally that is overturned by the courts, though those courts have normally overstepped the bounds of their authority to do so.

  4. janolan:

    I think you would agree that the government can prohibit certain associations say, two persons conspiring to rob a bank. My question is, barring that nefarious type of purpose, by what authority does it presume to judge any affiliation.

  5. Mespo,

    It really has nothing to do with declaring anything unlawful. It only has to do with whether or not the government recognizes the union for the purpose of taxation, benefits, automatic inheritance in the absence of a will, etc…

    There is a valid premise that all marriages and civil unions for the purpose of secular law are nothing more than for-profit corporations with right of survivorship that have been granted a few extra perks and responsibilities.

  6. puzzling

    Interesting viewpoint. However, the state would seem to need some mechanism to determine who is married to whom and who is not married at all. Wouldn’t this be neccessary to determine legal issues of inheritance, real estate, etc.? One might suggest a civil union certificate completed after said ceremony? But who would authenticate, sanction and notarize the validity of the certificates, the state? Wouldn’t we be back where we started?

  7. puzzling,
    You bring up a good point. However,how does government have the authority to handle a divorce if they can’t license the marriage?

  8. Why is government involved in licensing marriage at all?

    Marriage license requirements were created to limit interracial relationships in the early twentieth century. Why does society still accept this construct? To mandate blood testing and prevent the spread of some STD’s? As if STD’s couldn’t be spread outside of marriage?

  9. Does any government have the right to declare an association (whether intimate or expressive) of two or more citizens as unlawful if the underlying purpose breaks no laws?

  10. I too feel that JT’s solution is the best long term answer to provide equal justice to this community of citizens. The arguments against equal marriage rights are spurious and I do believe that banning them is contrary to the Constitution. Keith Obermann on monday night provided whaqt I thinks is the best non-legal rationale. This is about love and commitment, something so few of us have and so many of us yearn for. This love should be cherished and nourished.

  11. You have the best long term solution. Secular authority should limit itself to Civil Unions. A complete separation of Church and State on this issue seems to be the course of wisdom.

    Sadly the course of wisdom is rarely followed.

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