On 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.