(People have been bombarding my email box with pleas to put up a post on the Connecticut marriage equality ruling…apologies; I’ve been offline all day. I got zero sleep last night after putting Bailey down; the posts that went up today I had in the queue prior to the ruling. –P.)

In a ruling that has to bolster spirits across the country, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples have the right to marry. This makes it the third state to legalize marriage equality, after Massachusetts and California.

Coverage in the Hartford Courant is here. Reactions abound…

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“This is a momentous victory for the people of Connecticut and all Americans who hold fairness as a fundamental value. The high court’s analysis comes down to this simple yet profound principle: All of Connecticut’s families deserve and need the protections, rights and responsibilities that support and sustain them, and should be treated equally under the law.

“We thank the plaintiffs for their courage and our colleagues at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and their cooperating counsel for their outstanding advocacy on behalf of our community. We also applaud the years of work undertaken by our state partner, Love Makes a Family, which played a central role in creating a climate in Connecticut that made today’s historic opinion possible.”

Statement of Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council:

“Connecticut has long been a leader on LGBT equality, especially as relates to LGBT parents and their children. Today’s decision takes a tremendous and necessary step forward in fully protecting all Connecticut families. The Connecticut Supreme Court recognized what we all know to be true-civil unions are not equal to marriage and equality is the only way to treat all families fairly,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council. “In these unstable times, we cannot afford to grant some families more access to rights and benefits than others. Unfortunately, three states will vote on constitutional amendments to ban gay and lesbian couples from marrying this November. Arkansas will vote to allow child welfare professionals to decide what is in the best interest of children or ban all unmarried couples from fostering and adopting children without ever considering their qualifications as parents or the needs of children. As we enter the last few weeks of this historic election, Connecticut’s decision is a welcome reminder that the spirit of justice and equality this country was founded on is alive and well.”

Soulforce Executive Director, Jeff Lutes:

“This momentous decision would not have been possible without the efforts of organizations such as GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) and Connecticut’s Love Makes a Family. Today we salute their work, and we celebrate all the Connecticut couples and families who will now enjoy the same fundamental freedoms and legal protections as their neighbors.

Soulforce is dedicated to marriage equality for every couple in the United States, and we urge all Americans who value fairness and freedom to support the historic No on 8 campaign in California.”

Statement by Geoff Kors, NO on Prop 8 Executive Committee Member:

“Today, another state recognized that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry,” Kors said. “We believe – as do millions of our fellow Californians – that laws should not treat people differently, and we’re thrilled that loving couples in Connecticut now have the same fundamental rights as everyone in California.”

“As Californians, we believe in the freedom to make choices and live our lives without government interference,” Kors said. “We don’t want to eliminate the fundamental rights of our friends, neighbors and family members, and that’s why voters will vote NO on Prop 8. This is another indication that more and more Americans are recognizing the fundamental right of loving couples to marry.”

A snippet of the ruling and the reaction from Matt Barber are below the fold.You can read the full ruling here.

In sum, the state has failed to establish adequate reason to justify the statutory ban on same sex marriage. Accordingly, under the equal protection provisions of the state constitution, our statutory scheme governing marriage cannot stand insofar as it bars same sex cou-ples from marrying.

VIII

CONCLUSION

We recognize, as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, supra, 440 Mass. 309, that ”our decision marks a change in the history of our marriage law. Many people hold deep-seated religious, moral, and ethical convictions that marriage should be limited to the union of one man and one woman, and that homosexual conduct is immoral. Many hold equally strong religious, moral, and ethical convictions that same-sex couples are entitled to be married, and that homosexual persons should be treated no differently than their heterosexual neigh-bors. Neither view answers the question before [the court]. Our concern is with [our state] [c]onstitution as a charter of governance for every person properly within its reach.” Id., 312.

The drafters of our constitution carefully crafted its provisions in general terms, reflecting fundamental principles, knowing that a lasting constitution was needed. Like the framers of the federal constitution, they also ”knew [that] times can blind us to certain truths, and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the [c]onstitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” Lawrence v. Texas, supra, 539 U.S. 579. Not long ago, this court made the same essen-tial point, explaining that ”as we engage over time in the interpretation of our state constitution, we must consider the changing needs and expectations of the citizens of our state.” State v. Webb, 238 Conn. 389, 411, 680 A.2d 147 (1996). This admonition applies no less to the guarantee of equal protection embodied in our constitution than to any other state constitutional pro-vision.

Even though the right to marry is not enumerated in our constitution, it long has been deemed a basic civil right. E.g., Loving v. Virginia, supra, 388 U.S. 12 (”[m]arriage is one the basic civil rights of man” [inter-nal quotation marks omitted]); Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541, 62 S. Ct. 1110, 86 L. Ed. 1655 (1942) (same). Although we traditionally have viewed that right as limited to a union between a man and a woman, ”if we have learned anything from the significant evolution in the prevailing societal views and official policies toward members of minority races and toward women over the past half-century, it is that even the most familiar and generally accepted of social practices and traditions often mask unfairness and inequality that frequently is not recognized or appreci-ated by those not directly harmed by those practices or traditions. It is instructive to recall in this regard that the traditional, well-established legal rules and practices of our not-so-distant past (1) barred interra-cial marriage, (2) upheld the routine exclusion of women from many occupations and official duties, and (3) considered the relegation of racial minorities to separate and assertedly equivalent public facilities and institutions as constitutionally equal treatment.” In re Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal. 4th 853-54.

Like these once prevalent views, our conventional understanding of marriage must yield to a more contem-porary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitu-tional protection. 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. To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitu-tional principles to gay persons and another to all oth-ers.83 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 constitu-tional requirements, same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry.84

The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded with direction to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for sum-mary judgment and application for injunctive relief.

You know that I cannot end this post without presenting the reaction from the fringe. Here’s Matt Bam Bam Barber, close friend of The Peter:

Matt Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs with both Liberty Alliance Action and Liberty Counsel, and Associate Dean with Liberty University School of Law,* released the following statement today in response to news that the Connecticut Supreme Court has imposed “same-sex marriage” on the citizens of Connecticut.

“Today, Connecticut’s high court ruled that its state constitution led “inevitably to the conclusion” that men and women who are so inclined, have a ‘right’ to ‘marry’ someone of the same sex.  The ‘inevitable conclusion’ the Connecticut Supreme Court reached is only inevitable in the minds of judicial activists who are hell-bent on imposing, through judicial fiat, their own skewed ideology on ‘we the people.’  

“Why do we even need the legislative and executive branches of government if we are going to allow the courts to brazenly legislate from the bench as a self-ordained Judiciocracy?” continued Barber.  “It’s ridiculous to imagine that the framers of the Connecticut Constitution could have even conceptualized the oxymoronic notion of ‘gay marriage,’ much less considered it a ‘constitutional right.’

“Still, today’s decision underscores just how important this year’s presidential election is.  We must elect executives who will appoint judges that strictly interpret the constitution, not twist it to say whatever they want.  Despite hollow platitudes to the contrary, the overwhelming body of evidence indicates that Barack Obama is a strong supporter of ‘gay marriage’ and that he would appoint judges who believe the constitution changes with the times.  He has said he would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and that he opposes any efforts to protect marriage through constitutional amendment.  He has also said he supports the California Supreme Court’s earlier decision to impose ‘gay marriage.’  

John McCain, on the other hand, has a record indicating that he will defend traditional marriage and appoint judges who will actually interpret the constitution, not make-it-up willy-nilly. That said, McCain must do more – a lot more.  Today’s decision gives McCain a golden opportunity to reiterate his support for traditional marriage and to get behind both state and federal constitutional amendments to protect marriage.  The differences between the two candidates on these issues could not be starker.  It’s up to McCain to highlight those differences,” concluded Barber.  

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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