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Same-sex marriage in Connecticut


Same-sex marriage in Connecticut

Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Connecticut since November 12, 2008, following a state court decision that found the state's civil unions failed to provide same-sex couples with rights and privileges equivalent to those of marriage. Connecticut was the third state to do so after Massachusetts and California.

Same-sex marriage


On January 31, 2007, State Senator Andrew J. McDonald and State Representative Michael Lawlor, Co-Chairpersons of the Judiciary Committee, announced the introduction of a bill that would give same-sex couples full marriage rights in the state of Connecticut. The bill, HB 7395,[1] passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27–15 on April 12, 2007. At the time, Connecticut became the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to have a legislative body vote in favor of same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage said they wanted a non-binding public referendum on the issue, however no legislator introduced legislation for such a referendum. When it was offered in committee as an amendment, it was defeated by a bipartisan vote.

Governor Jodi Rell said she would veto any same-sex marriage legislation. She said the civil unions law "covered the concerns that have been raised".[2] The bill was never submitted to the full House or Senate prior to adjournment of the 2007 session.

On April 22, 2009, Connecticut legislators, both in the House (vote 100-44) and in the Senate (vote 28-7), agreed to replace all statutory references to marriage with gender-neutral language. Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the law on April 23. On October 1, 2010, civil unions ceased to be performed, and existing civil unions were automatically converted into marriages. Before that date, couples in existing Connecticut civil unions could convert them to marriages voluntarily.[3][4][5][6] Same-sex marriages, civil unions and broad domestic partnerships from other jurisdictions are legally treated as marriages in Connecticut.[7]

Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health

In August 2004, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) representing eight same-sex couples from Connecticut filed a lawsuit in state court, challenging what they described as the state's discriminatory exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to marry. They argued that this discrimination violated the equality and liberty provisions of the Connecticut Constitution and were supported by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union. The case was opposed by the Family Institute of Connecticut, which was denied intervenor status in the case.

On July 12, 2006, a Superior Court judge ruled against the plaintiffs finding that:

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.

The judge concluded that denying same-sex couples the right to marry did not violate Connecticut's Constitution.[8]

The Supreme Court of Connecticut heard an appeal by the plaintiffs in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health on May 14, 2007. On October 10, 2008, the court released an opinion guaranteeing marriage rights to same-sex couples.[9][10] The Court ruled 4-3 that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the equality and liberty rules in the Connecticut Constitution.[10] The court also held that it would be unconstitutional to relegate same-sex couples to a status less than full marriage by enacting legislation treating same-sex unions as civil unions rather than marriage. On November 12, 2008, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Connecticut.[11][12] The court decision made Connecticut the third state to recognize same-sex marriage, but by the time the first same-sex marriages were solemnized in Connecticut, California voters had approved a same-sex marriage ban by referendum.

Before the Court issued its decision, a coalition of groups that included such opponents of same-sex marriage as the state's Roman Catholic bishops and the Family Institute of Connecticut supported a November referendum on a proposal to convene a constitutional convention.[13][14] On November 4, voters opposed calling a constitution convention by a 2 to 1 margin.[15][16]

Mueller v. Tepler

On July 16, 2014, the Connecticut Supreme Court, reversing judgments in lower courts, ruled unanimously that a same-sex couple in a relationship established before the state afforded legal recognition to their relationship has the same rights as other married couples. In the case of Mueller v. Tepler, it allowed a woman to pursue a medical practice claim for the loss of income and companionship based on the care her female partner received between 2001 and 2004.[17]

Public opinion

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Connecticut
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20–October 1, 2014 1,284 likely voters ± 3.3% 61% 26% 13%
Public Policy Polling July 26–29, 2012 771 voters ± 3.53% 55% 33% 12%
Public Policy Polling September 22–25, 2011 592 voters ± 4% 55% 32% 13%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute March 29-April 4, 2005 1,541 registered voters ± 2.5% 42% 53% 6%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute May 26-June 1, 2004 1,350 registered voters ± 2.7% 45% 50% 5%
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute October 1–7, 2003 1,519 voters ± 2.5% 44% 50% 6%

Civil union

The state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provided same-sex couples with the same rights and responsibilities under state law as marriage. Connecticut became the second state in the United States, following Vermont, to adopt civil unions, and the first to do so without judicial intervention. The bill was passed by the House on April 13 and by the Senate on April 20. Governor Jodi Rell signed the bill into law later the same day, and it went into effect on October 1, 2005.[18]

Following the Supreme Court of Connecticut's October 2008 ruling that found civil unions failed to provide same-sex couples with the rights and responsibilities of marriage, all existing civil unions were automatically transformed into marriages on October 1, 2010.[7]

State employee benefits

Connecticut has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2000.[19]

See also


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  19. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
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