The Connecticut Supreme Court just released its decision in the case of Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health. By a 4-3 decision, the Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry:
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.
Just got this via email from State Rep. Mike Lawlor, who is the long-serving House Chair of the Connecticut Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. He applauded the decision and provided some key historical background, noting the Connecticut legislature will pass marriage equality:
The State of Connecticut has a bipartisan history of supporting equality for all citizens, gay and straight.
In 2005, our state legislature passed civil unions, which granted full state marriage rights to same-sex couples, but only under a different name. That law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell. Connecticut became the first state in the nation to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples without a court order to do so.
In 2007, the legislature’s Judiciary Committee successfully passed a bill to change the name of “civil unions” to “marriage.” That bill came out of the committee on a bipartisan, 27-15 vote. In fact, 25% of all the members of the legislature sit on that committee.
All of Connecticut’s political leaders, Democrat and Republican, have supported equal rights for gays and lesbians. All of our members of Congress support this as well. For example, Chris Shays, our state’s only Republican congressman, has spoken numerous times about his support for full same-sex marriage rights and has said that if he was a member of the state legislature he would vote in its favor.
For nine years, Connecticut’s legislature and courts have been moving along the same path towards full equality for gays and lesbians. It is almost certain that the 2009 session of the legislature will vote to support marriage equality. The Supreme Court said our constitution requires it. The legislature will do it because it is the right thing to do. In Connecticut, this has been a bipartisan effort from the start and I’m sure the next legislature will overwhelmingly endorse today’s ruling.
UPDATE: Connecticut’s Republican Governor, Jodi Rell, won’t fight the ruling:
“I disagree with today’s State Supreme Court ruling but as governor, I will uphold it. I continue to believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
I also believe that the historic civil union law that I proudly signed in 2005 is equitable and just. We were the first state to enact such a law through legislative action and not a court mandate.
The Supreme Court has spoken. I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision – either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not meet with success. I will therefore abide by the ruling.”