Thursday, April 21, 2005

From Hartford, Yes...But

As predicted, Connecticut has enacted civil unions, but with DoMA restrictions. Yesterday, the conference committee's work ground up the unrestricted Senate version with the one man/one woman amendment House one, putting the civil-union sausage on the governor's desk. She signed it.

As of October 1, 2005, Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation to recognize same-sex unions or marriages. In an amusing form of boosterism, the Hartford Courant article differentiates the law, but not by the DoMA trapping or by its stopping short of recognizing marriage. Instead, it reports:
Vermont is the only other state to recognize civil unions. Massachusetts allows gays to marry. But unlike Connecticut, those states were reacting to court rulings.
Similarly the Boston Globe found a local angle. It led page one with the story (probably a welcome relief to readers from Big Dig leaks). Its version reported:
'Massachusetts had a profound impact on the debate here," said Andrew McDonald, the openly gay chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a chief proponent of civil unions. ''People took notice of that -- that a state had adopted same-sex unions and not been diminished one bit."
So sub-regionalism aside, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell considers it a big victory for civil rights. Although she's a Republcan, she shouldn't have any serious problems for supporting this among other homosexual rights. Most of the voters favored civil unions.

Supporters of the law were pleased, to varying degrees. Some took it as a triumph. Others, such as Anne Stanback were understandably angry at the DoMA amendment. She is president of Love Makes a Family of Connecticut. Her group was one of several that initially opposed civil unions, thinking Connecticut had a real shot at a Massachusetts-style same-sex marriage. "It's bittersweet," she said. A supporter in the Senate, Edith Prague (D-Columbia) called the House amendment "belittling."

Make that just bitter for the anti forces and haters. While there were only happy folk at the State House yesterday, the dark side will try to assemble a protest demonstration for Sunday. It will be fascinating to see how many they can muster in such a get-along-go-along state.

In his analysis, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, Brian Brown called this law "a sad day for the state." Predictably, he threatened -- the majority -- of legislators with loss of their seats. "This vote will not be forgotten," he blustered. "If the goal was to push this through in a non-election year, they were 100% wrong."

His Website has been advertising the rally as a call for Rell to veto the legislation. Since she already signed it, you have to wonder whether they'll cry in their beers or make more threats against the majority of their legislators. Good luck, eh? At least the rally is at 4 p.m., so that they can go to church and mow their lawns first.

Amusingly, the Republican leader of the Senate, Lou DeLuca, probably has the right map in front of him. He opposed civil unions, wants a plebiscite on the issue, and fears that gay marriage is in the works for Connecticut eventually. As he put it, "This is just one step on the way to what I believe runs contrary to the will of the people of Connecticut."

That is very similar to the Massachusetts rhetoric by the folk trying to roll back same-sex marriage to civil unions with an amendment by ballot in 2006. Yet, time works against the anti folk when they see that neither civil unions nor same-sex marriages cause problems nor do anything but positives. Even in a heavily Roman Catholic state like Connecticut, no one seems to be expecting an Old Testament Lord to appear suddenly to do any smiting.

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