Connecticut Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court of Connecticut

The Supreme Court of Connecticut

While many disgruntled equal rights activists are protesting in the streets of California cities over the ruling of Proposition 8, the feelings of same- sex couples in Connecticut seem to be completely opposite. Just eight days after the passage of Proposition 8 banned same sex marriages in California, the Connecticut Supreme Court approved a ruling on October 10 that stated same sex couples have the right to marry under the state’s constitution.

With this ruling, Connecticut joins Massachusetts which is located just to their north, as the only two states that currently permit same sex marriage. California previously permitted same sex- marriage prior to the passage of Proposition 8, which ruled them illegal.

The ruling in Connecticut was the result of eight separate lawsuits which protested the civil unions that were allowed under the state’s constitution. Civil unions, they said did not provide the same rights afforded to married couples.

Same-sex couples from around the state rejoiced as the ruling was passed at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, November 12. Just minutes after the ruling was passed, couples around the state married. Among the first of the couples given a license in West Hartford was state representative Beth Bye and partner Tracey Wilson who had their civil union validated Wednesday.

The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision approving same sex marriage stated that “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 ruling came just eight years after Connecticut allowed for civil unions of same-sex couples. Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire also allow for civil unions of same-sex couples.

“A large question now becomes,” said Donald Caminiti, an attorney for Breslin and Breslin law firm in New Jersey. “What will other states do with the couples who are now married? If other states abide to the ruling in Connecticut under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution then the rights afforded to same sex couples in Connecticut will be honored in other states. However, the opposite also applies whereby states may not honor the ruling and therefore the rights would not be afforded.”

Opponents of the ruling still have the ability to overturn the decision through a referendum that was on the November 4 ballot as part of Connecticut’s constitution. If the referendum, which is given to voters every 20 years, passes, a constitutional convention of state legislatures will be held. At the constitution, a two-thirds majority of legislatures is needed to overturn the ruling of the states constitution. Connecticut, though, has a Democratic majority in the state legislature and the referendum has not passed in the past 40 years.

None of this, however, seemed to matter on this day, as couples like Barb and Robin Levine-Ritterman who had waited for 17 years for the right to marry were given what they had waited so long for.

“Love is love,” said Barb Levine-Ritterman in a Hartford Courant article. “And now the state recognizes it.”

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