CT Supreme Court rules ban on gay marriage unconstitutional

Following a similar line of reasoning of the decision earlier this year by the California Supreme Court, the Connecticut Supreme Court has issued a 4-3 ruling that appears to overturn a "separate but equal" argument for civil unions and orders that same gender couple have the right to marry.

From the ruling:

" We conclude that, in light of the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm. We also conclude that (1) our state scheme discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, (2) for the same reasons that classifications predicated on gender are considered quasi-suspect for purposes of the equal protection provisions of the United States constitution, sexual orientation constitutes a quasi-sus- pect classification for purposes of the equal protection provisions of the state constitution, and, therefore, our statutes discriminating against gay persons are subject to heightened or intermediate judicial scrutiny, and (3) the state has failed to provide sufficient justification for excluding same sex couples from the institution of marriage. In light of our determination that the state’s disparate treatment of same sex couples is constitution- ally deficient under an intermediate level of scrutiny, we do not reach the plaintiffs’ claims implicating a stricter standard of review, namely, that sexual orienta- tion is a suspect classification, and that the state’s bar against same sex marriage infringes on a fundamental right in violation of due process and discriminates on the basis of sex in violation of equal protection. In accordance with our conclusion that the statutory scheme impermissibly discriminates against gay per- sons on account of their sexual orientation, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case with direction to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment."

Read the full ruling here. There are three dissents: 1, 2, 3.

The New York Times story is here.

A story by the AP on the case in question which gives some background.

The Blade also has a piece up on the legalization that would seem to be implied by this decision.

Read GLAD's reaction and plans.

Integrity has released a statement, which we received via email:

"Integrity applauds today’s Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. “Today’s decision is a decision in favor of marriage and against bigotry,” said Integrity President Susan Russell.

“It is another step forward toward making this a nation of liberty and justice for all -- not just some – and it is a cause for celebration for all Americans. It is also a source of great encouragement for those of us working to preserve marriage for all in California.”

“Integrity is committed to continue to work toward full inclusion for the LGBT faithful in the Episcopal Church and to advocate for equal protection for LGBT Americans -- and we give thanks for those who made today’s Connecticut Supreme Court decision possible.”

Comments (8)

From what I gathered from the Vice Presidential debate both campaigns support civil unions, but not gay marriage. That didn't get much play in the media that I noticed. Will this ruling bring the issue back to the surface in the campaign? Will the media latch onto the separate is not equal language and press the candidates on it? How will the ruling affect initiatives in states like Arizona and California -- will it fire up the anti base?

John,

I would say that you gathered incorrectly from the VP debate -- not surprising since Palin obfuscated and Ifill let her get away with it.

As I understand the official positions of both campaigns, neither supports marriage equality under the name of "marriage." *HOWEVER*, the Obama-Biden campaign supports federal recognition of same-sex relationships under whatever label as equal to marriage for all federal purposes, such as taxes, immigration, and Social Security. Biden even referred to "same-sex marriages" at one point in the debate, showing his true colors.

The McCain-Palin campaign opposes any official recognition of same-sex relationships. McCain personally supported an anti-marriage initiative in Arizona. Palin did veto a bill that would have prohibited certain benefits for domestic partners, but only because her Attorney
General advised her the law would be unconstitutional.

At most, McCain-Palin would recognize extremely limited rights, like hospital visitation, that only an ogre could oppose. Obama-Biden are chary about saying so, but they give every indication of supporting true marriage equality.

Christopher,

Yes, but. It's not just Ifill that let Palin off the hook. So has Obama, and we must ask ourselves why is that? Until Obama decides to make an issue of it there's no distinction. The message so far is that Obama does not intend to pursue equal rights during his administration.

From the transcript:

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/02/debate.transcript/?iref=mpstoryview

IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts
with you, Sen. Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting
same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely
positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely
no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint
between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be
granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the
hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera.
That's only fair.

It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support
making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the
same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their
rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership
as heterosexual couples do.

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest
of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the
traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And
unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.

But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my
answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing
their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves,
you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of
friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with
me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this
issue.

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin
administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital
or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage
as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances
we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for
anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what
constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision
to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their
faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at
her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights
distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed
heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my
answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.

As a strictly political calculation, you don't generally do things that would delight people who aleady plan to vote for you while scaring off some who might still be making up their minds. So I don't expect Obama to make an issue of this. That said, is there anybody out there who thinks that once in office a candidate endorsed by James Dobson would be as gay friendly as a candidate endorsed by Gene Robinson?

In other words, Obama doesn't want to scare off bigots.

I think his current positon already scares off bigots, but my guess would be that he wouldn't want to scare off people who are currently only willing to go part of the way toward equality.

John's original question was "is this going to fire up the anti-Gay base?"

Not a chance. When the entire world economy is melting like an iceberg at the equator, the last thing most Americans are worried about is Gay marriage.

The three other candidates who were not included in any of the non-debates are for marriage parity: Ralph Nader, Gloria La Riva, and Cynthia McKinney

And quoting the site VoteUSA.org... Obama on DOMA:
http://www.vote-usa.org/Issue.aspx?Issue=BUSGay&Office=USPresident&Election=20081104GLA000000ALL

Obama also declared, "Personally, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." At the same time, Obama has strongly supported civil unions, arguing that it is a way to protect equal rights without taking the politically risky approach of gay marriage.
Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.114-115
Date: 10/30/2007

Obama is no friend to queer folk, no matter what the Human Rights Campaigners may say.

- Jay Vos

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