Marriages began in Connecticut on November 12, following the state’s Supreme Court decision to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has declared that the state’s gay and lesbian residents have full access to marriage, making Connecticut the third state in the nation to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. With this latest victory, the Constitution State joins Massachusetts and California in recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. The state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on November 12.
In a 4-3 decision, the majority stated: “Interpreting 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. To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed suit in 2004 on behalf of eight Connecticut same-sex couples after they were denied licenses to marry. GLAD appealed the case to the state Supreme Court after a lower court had ruled against the couples. Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the court brief in support of GLAD.
In its decision, the Court said: “We agree with the following point made by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., in its amicus brief: ‘Any married couple [reasonably] would feel that they had lost something precious and irreplaceable if the government were to tell them that they no longer were ‘married’ and instead were in a ‘civil union.’ The sense of being ‘married’—what this conveys to a couple and their community, and the security of having others clearly understand the fact of their marriage and all it signifies—would be taken from them. These losses are part of what same sex couples are denied when government assigns them a ‘civil union’ status. If the tables were turned, very few heterosexuals would countenance being told that they could enter only civil unions and that marriage is reserved for lesbian and gay couples. Surely there is [a] constitutional injury when the majority imposes on the minority that which it would not accept for itself.'”
The Connecticut Supreme Court decision and the California Supreme Court victory earlier this year represent the hard work of LGBT advocates and brave plaintiffs throughout the country who dedicate their lives to achieving equality for the LGBT community.
In 2007, Lambda Legal won a district court victory in Varnum v. Brien on behalf of six same-sex couples who sought to marry in Iowa, and on behalf of three of their children. Less than a year later, 15 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed supporting same-sex couples seeking the right to marry, and the right of their children not to have their families labeled as inferior by government. Those briefs were signed by hundreds of Iowans including former Lieutenant Governors Joy Corning and Sally Pederson. The final decision in that case will be made by the Iowa Supreme Court.
“Today, another state has joined a growing list of governments around the world that recognize that same-sex couples are full citizens entitled to justice. As long-time residents of Connecticut, my spouse Carolyn and I are overjoyed that our home state has affirmed the freedom to marry,” says Lambda Legal Director of Education and Public Affairs Leslie Gabel-Brett. “We hope the high court in Iowa will follow Connecticut’s example.”