Late on Friday the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Marking Connecticut as the third state to recognize their State Constitution mandates treating citizens equally, regardless of sexual orientation, when seeking the same rights and privileges of marriage. Massachusetts and California are the first and second, respectively.
“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,” the court said.
“To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others. The guarantee of equal protection under the law, and our obligation to uphold that command, forbids us from doing so. In accordance with these state constitutional requirements, same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry.”
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) took up this case on behalf of 8 gay and lesbian couples to fight “the state’s discriminatory exclusion of same-sex couples right to marry.” Meaning that even though the state adopted civil unions, this is still a “Jim Crowe” separate but equal issue. Same-sex couples shouldn’t be relegated to only civil unions but with full faith and credit guaranteed access to the same privileges of their heterosexual counterparts.
These are profiles of the 8 couples who brought forth this legal action. All of them have been in committed relationships for between 10 and 30 years, many of them raising children.
1. Elizabeth (Beth) Kerrigan and Joanne (Jody) Mock
2. Damaris Navarro and Gloria Searson
3. Carol Conklin and Janet Peck
4. Geraldine Artis and Suzanne Artis
5. Barbara Levine-Ritterman and Robin Levine-Ritterman
6. Stephen Davis and Jeffrey Busch
7. J.E. Martin and Denise Howard
8. John Anderson and Garrett Stack
Here’s the history of this MAJOR victory for the GLBT community:
Kerrigan & Mock v. Connecticut Dept. of Public Health
August 25, 2004: GLAD Files suit against the state’s Department of Public Health (the issuer and overseer of marriages) and Dorothy C. Bean, the Madison town registrar of vital statistics.
March 21, 2006: Arguments in the motion for summary judgment, filed by GLAD, were heard in New Haven Superior Court.
June 12, 2006: Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman denied the plaintiff’s motion, stating “Civil union and marriage in Connecticut now share the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law. … The Connecticut Constitution requires that there be equal protection and due process of law, not that there be equivalent nomenclature for such protection and process.”
May 14, 2007: GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein presented oral argument in the case before the Connecticut Supreme Court.
October 10, 2008: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to full marriage equality.
But isn’t a Civil Union the same as Marriage?
Is a Spork a Fork or a Spoon? No. They are different but the same, or Separate But Equal. How would you feel if you were told by your government that “this part of the law is for “normal” people and this part over here…that’s for you.” Civil unions amount to separate drinking fountains and lunch counters, but for marriage and family law.
I don’t need the government making special rules or laws to include me. More importantly, I don’t need them making laws to exclude or separate me. I just need them to recognize that I’m the same as everyone else. Thus giving me all the rights and privileges already on the books.
Do Massachusetts, California and Connecticut same-sex couples now have all the same rights as heterosexual couples?
No. Not even close! They only get the benefits afford them by their respective state. Even though the marriages are legal and binding, they are not recognized by the federal government. On top of that no state is required to accept or recognize these marriages. Even though, by federal law, they are required to recognize all non same-sex marriages.
How can they do that?
DOMA baby! DOMA. DOMA or the Defense of Marriage Act keeps all same-sex couples, even those legally married, from receiving any of the benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. It also “protects” other states from being required to recognize said marriages.
DOMA was passed on September 21, 1996 by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House and was signed in to law by President Bill Clinton. What, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell didn’t screw us enough? Why Bill? Why?
1 U.S.C. § 7 Reads:
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
28 U.S.C. § 1738C Reads:
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
What’s funny is the most damning piece of “Gay-Bashing” legislation in the past 50 yrs was written by the 2008 Libertarian candidate for President. Former republican and Georgia Representative, Bob Barr. He has since apologized for his part in the creation of DOMA.
What’s next, in the fight for Marriage Equality?
We need to get more states to accept and grant same-sex marriages. The more states that we can get to issue us Marriage Licenses, the easier it will be to strike down DOMA and prevent the Marriage Protection Act from even thinking of making it through Congress. So, start now. Ask your local city/town council members, mayor and state legislators if they would support a move by the state to recognize and grant same-sex marriages. Tell them that you vote and how important this issue is to you. Don’t stop telling them and embolden others to do the same.