Same Sex Victory in Connecticut – A Real One!

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Ftm_5 Just got word that the Connecticut Supreme Court found an equal right to marry – yup, “marry,” in the state constitution.   Not civil unions.   Marriage.

Here’s the short version from my good friend Dan Krisch, whose firm, Horton, Shields & Knox, represented 8 same sex couples who sought the radical right to be treated just like everyone else:  

The basics (there are 3 separate dissents and an 85-page majority, so I’m cutting to the chase):   Sexual orientation is a quasi-suspect class under the EP Clauses of our state constitution; denying same-sex couples the right to marry doesn’t survive the heightened scrutiny that comes w/quasi-suspect classification.

I admit to feeling a bit sentimental about the opinion, one for the merits, two for having clerked for CT SCT Justice Joette Katz after law school.   Justice Katz joined a concurring opinion written by Justice Norcotte that explains precisely why civil unions just don’t cut it:

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.” . . . As one prominent legal commentator has explained in discussing the establishment of civil unions: ‘‘Such a step reduces the discrimination, but falls far short of eliminating it. . . .”

Happy days!

Access Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health from here.

-Kathleen A. Bergin  

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