Connecticut Rules Prohibition of Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

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.”

Comments

  1. Zeke says

    Way to go Connecticut!

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

  2. Mike says

    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”…

  3. Tim says

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

  4. James N Philly says

    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…..

  5. Matt says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

  7. says

    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.

  8. Javier says

    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.

  9. says

    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!

  10. Webster says

    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.

  11. sooner says

    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?

  12. says

    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.

  13. Tyler says

    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.

  14. RW says

    “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.

  15. dbzeag says

    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.

  16. dbzeag says

    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.

  17. says

    DBZEAG, It’s my understanding that the ruling is based on the Connecticut Constitution and thus will not affect other states with civil unions unless their constitutions are similar – and then only charging GLBT couples there to file similar suits.

  18. says

    It would be nice if Obama & Schwarzenegger cut brief spots saying they are (or would be) voting NO on Prop 8 in California. Do they even have to give a reason? They’ve both announced their opposition.

  19. dbzeag says

    Dan B, that’s what I mean. Maybe it will inspire action in those other states much quicker.

  20. noah says

    This is great news! Congrats to the folks in CT! The men and women in the state who worked and fought for this win deserve high praise.

    This is why getting a Dem in the White House is crucial. If we can get more liberal judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, we can get a decision that would strike down any state-level bans on gay marriage or civil unions.

    Loving v. Virginia was the U.S. Supreme Court case that destroyed prohibition of interracial marriage. If conservatives control the U.S. Supreme Court, we’ll never get a pro-gay marriage decision. Look at the writings of Scalia, Thomas, and other ultra-conservatives on the Court when it comes to gay rights. They all voted against striking down the sodomy laws.

  21. steve says

    While I’m happy for CT, I’m afraid that this will incite the same backlash that we saw in 2004, where many, many states passed laws outlawing SSM.

    In 3 weeks, many states, especially CA and FL, will vote on the same issue. Conservatives now have a built-in, ready-made ad to run for this, I’m sure.

    Again, glad it happened – but the timing SUCKS!!!

  22. ichabod says

    People have little care for who’s marrying who when they’re sweating whether or not they can even put food on the table. This ruling will have little effect on the election.

    Go CT!

  23. MAJeff says

    “DOMA was already upheld by SCOTUS.”

    Umm, when? There have been a couple of lower court challenges, but nothing has made it to SCOTUS. Did I miss a case?

  24. FOOCHY says

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

    Tim, I believe you are referring to the Massachusetts state law which was recently appealed which restricted out-of-state marriages of couples whose union would not be recognized in their home state. While that law has been used more recently to prevent same-sex marriages, it was actually drafted over 90 years ago to prevent interracial marriage. The push for its repeal was spearheaded by both gay and African American politicians, as it was an ugly tribute to both racism and sexual identity discrimination.

    I can’t seem to find the article I read about the Massachusetts law, but I don’t recall that Connecticut ever had a similar law. Check out the CT Attorney General’s website for the particulars of their laws (www.ct.gov/ag/) — but in 2004, their AG wrote about the status CT residents who were married in MA in a letter to then Governor Romney:

    “Under Connecticut law, however, whether a marriage is “void” is a different question from whether the marriage is “permitted” or “authorized.” Carabetta v. Carabetta, 182 Conn. 344, 348-49 (1980) (“[i]n the absence of express language in the governing statute declaring a marriage void for failure to observe a statutory requirement, this court has held in an unbroken line of cases… that such a marriage, though imperfect, is dissoluble rather than void.”). As stated in our opinion, same sex marriages are not authorized in Connecticut. But that fact does not make them automatically void, because our state has no statute declaring same sex marriages void so. The answer to your question therefore depends on the legal effect and meaning of a provision of your own statute, particularly the term “void,” as interpreted by Massachusetts courts and the Massachusetts Attorney General.”