Connecticut | Gay Marriage | News

Connecticut Rules Prohibition of Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Connecticut today ruled that the state's same-sex civil union laws are discriminatory and that gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry in that state:

Conn_2"Citing the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the justices ruled that civil unions were discriminatory. Eight same-sex couples had brought the case, Kerrigan v. the state Commissioner of Public Health, after they were denied marriage licenses in 2004 by the Madison town clerk, who was following instructions issued by the state attorney general's office. The state, arguing that civil unions already provide all the rights and protections of marriage, prevailed in a Superior Court ruling in July 2006. The couples appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which heard three hours of arguments on the case in May 2007."

PlaintiffsHere's some background on the arguments from May 2007.

From the opinion (PDF):

"The issue presented by this case is whether the state statutory prohibition against same sex marriage violates the constitution of Connecticut. The plaintiffs, eight same sex couples, commenced this action, claiming that the state statutory prohibition against same sex marriage violates their rights to substantive due process and equal protection under the state constitution. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendant state and local officials upon determining that, because this state’s statutes afford same sex couples the right to enter into a civil union, which affords them the same legal rights as marriage, the plaintiffs had not established a constitutionally cognizable harm. 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..."

More of the opinion, AFTER THE JUMP...

Opinion, continued

"...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-suspect 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 constitutionally deficient under an intermediate level of scrutiny, we do not reach the plaintiffs’ claims implicating a stricter standard of review, namely, that sexual orientation 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 persons 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."

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  1. Wow.

    Posted by: ichabod | Oct 10, 2008 11:43:25 AM

  2. YEAH!!!!

    now pray for us here in California!!!

    Posted by: rich | Oct 10, 2008 11:46:08 AM

  3. this from the Connecticut Supreme Court or from the Appeals Court?

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 10, 2008 11:47:04 AM

  4. Way to go Connecticut!

    I was just up there last year. CT is a very beautiful state that is even more beautiful now.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 10, 2008 11:47:43 AM

  5. Most excellent... it would have obviously been worse for us if it went the other way - but now expect the endless drone from the other side talking about "activist judges"...

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 10, 2008 11:55:06 AM

  6. Woohoo! So it WAS the Supreme Court?! Thanks for the update, Andy!

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 10, 2008 11:57:44 AM

  7. Does Connecticut have any laws on the books that restrict out of state gay couples from getting Married?

    Posted by: Tim | Oct 10, 2008 12:01:08 PM

  8. Peter, this is the Supreme Courts decision! It's amazing that this is actually happening acros the country. It is still going to take a lot of time for this to become a tidal wave across the country, but it is coming. I'm thankful that I live in a state that does not have an amendment against this, but you never know. Being in a relationship for five years, how can anyone tell me that my relationship isn't as important as a friends who divorced her husband after only two years. It's coming people and it's up to us to remember that each victory is an advancement in our CIVIL rights.....

    Posted by: James N Philly | Oct 10, 2008 12:01:22 PM

  9. I've never been more proud to be from the Constitution State! And while Governor Rell says that she is against it and that she believes that the majority of citizens of the state are against it, she realizes that in fact that is far from the truth and that any measure to oppose or repeal this would fail.

    Posted by: Matt | Oct 10, 2008 12:03:16 PM

  10. YAY! Keep those good opinions coming! The precedents are gaining momentum!

    Once again: quasi-suspect = stricter scrutiny = we win!

    Posted by: KevinVT | Oct 10, 2008 12:04:00 PM

  11. So gay marriage is legal there now?

    Posted by: KFLO | Oct 10, 2008 12:06:07 PM

  12. Some people in the previous thread argued that this is the wrong time to announce such a decision, but the fact is: This is the right decision, and it will be on the right side of history. Bravo, CT, and bravo to those who wrote this wise decision. I'm hoping my home state, the first to have CUs, will soon follow in these humane footsteps.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 10, 2008 12:06:52 PM

  13. What about DOMA? When is that unconstitutional PoS going to be struck down?

    Posted by: Tim | Oct 10, 2008 12:09:48 PM

  14. I'm very happy about this, don't get me wrong but I'm worried this is going to drive turn-out against in CA and nation wide. This is exactly the kind of thing that drives the wing-nuts to the polls.

    I know they can't but I wish they would've waited a month.

    Please don't beat me up too badly for the comment.

    Posted by: realitythink | Oct 10, 2008 12:10:37 PM

  15. And another one bites the dust.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 10, 2008 12:14:32 PM

  16. I agree with the ruling, but bad timing. Not only do you have the national elections just over 3 weeks ago, but CT voters are voting on whether to have a state constitutional convention that could ban gay marriage and/or allow CT voters to ban gay marriage by voter initiative. The courts seem to love dropping red hot button decisions on the doorstep of elections.

    Posted by: Javier | Oct 10, 2008 12:20:00 PM

  17. Congratulations, Connecticut. If Obama wins, he's promised to repeal DOMA, and then it will mean actual marriage. Federal joint tax returns. Foreign partner gets the green card. Just like everyone else. GO OBAMA!

    Posted by: Jesse Archer | Oct 10, 2008 12:27:59 PM

  18. Let's just enjoy this for a while--before the haters start throwing out their "legislating from the bench" nonsense--of course totally and completely forgetting that the courts were instituted to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

    For now, though, just a little bask in the common sense of equality.

    Posted by: Webster | Oct 10, 2008 12:34:16 PM

  19. I am concerned about how close Proposition 8 is polling in CA. Wouldn't it help if Obama gave a 20 minute speech in CA explaining why it's important to defeat the measure? Obama is a great speaker with huge support in CA, and if he just rallied the troops in CA on the issue we could defeat Proposition 8. The gay marriage ruling in CA was a great moment for us, and now we are in danger of losing it. Since we are supporting Obama in massive measure shouldn't we expect him to help us in CA on a measure that is so important to us and on which we have worked for so long?

    Posted by: sooner | Oct 10, 2008 12:36:11 PM

  20. Those who warn about the "activist judges" claim need to remember that the state of Connecticut is actually the only state to award equal rights to gays based on legislation rather than judicial action.

    The CT state legislature passes a law years ago creating civil unions and was not prompted by any judge.

    CT has always been the talking point in response to "activist judges" argument for this point.

    Posted by: Dan B | Oct 10, 2008 12:36:44 PM

  21. As a Hartford resident, I cannot be happier. Even if I'm at school right now, I can't get this huge grin off of my face.

    Now please, give Hartford a legit gay bar. Please.

    Posted by: Tyler | Oct 10, 2008 12:55:52 PM

  22. Can Rhode Island be far behind?

    Go MERI!!!! (Marriage Equality RI)

    Posted by: Rad | Oct 10, 2008 12:56:26 PM

  23. "Activist judges"

    All the learned judges are doing is telling the world "this is what the legislation means."

    Happens all the time. Laws get passed and it turns out they have ramifications their proponents didn't foresee.

    Hardly "judicial activism."

    A secondary point: statutory law is only a minor part of "the law" as a whole. Precedent decisions are far more voluminous. Perhaps it's judicial activism, but that's the way the common law system works -- a system, btw, that is prescribed in the US constitution.

    Posted by: RW | Oct 10, 2008 12:57:39 PM

  24. I am curious how this ruling will aid in those other states with civil unions but not marriages such as WA or OR. I would imagine they could leverage this ruling (calling civil unions incompatible and unconstitutional to marriage for any one group) as a means for their own court case.

    Posted by: dbzeag | Oct 10, 2008 12:58:56 PM

  25. It is unfortunate, however, for states like mine (Ohio) where civil unions, partnerships or any benefits that resemble a marriage benefit are outlawed to all couples, gay or straight.

    Posted by: dbzeag | Oct 10, 2008 1:01:15 PM

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