Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-899

Title:

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE GUARANTEE OF EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE FOR SAME SEX COUPLES.

Vote Date:

3/30/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/6/2009

File No.:

680

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health that denial of marriage to same sex couples was unconstitutional because it violated equal protection as guaranteed by the Connecticut constitution. This legislation was created to codify that decision.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Provides that no church or qualified church organization be required to marry a same sex couple if it violates their religious beliefs.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Meg Hooper, Brand Chief, Planning Branch/Office of Vital Records, Department of Public Health – Requests amendments to the bill. The department has found three technical problems with the bill. Section 4 allows for parties to a marriage or civil union to legally re-marry without dissolving the first relationship. This should be revised to allow only couples in a civil union to enter into a marriage. This would lead to duplicate records and administrative burdens. Section 5 should include the applicant's sex as one of the data elements collected for the marriage license. Subsection (b) of section 11 should be clarified. It is difficult to decipher whether the effective date of the marriage is the date that the marriage was entered into or the date of the civil union.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Beth Kerrigan and Joanne Mock – One of the couples involved in the Kerrigan action. They have been partners for 15 years and are raising seven year old twin sons. They were ecstatic at the Supreme Courts ruling and that they no longer had to attempt to explain to their sons why their parents could not be married. They are proud and thankful to live in a state where equality lives as well.

Anne Stanback, Executive Director, Love Makes a Family – She states that many people are proud to be citizens of Connecticut after Kerrigan. That when same sex couples began to marry in November of last year there were no major protests. This bill does not legalize same sex marriage, but clears up confusion that exists because of the conflicting statutes and ruling.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities – This bill affirms the equal treatment under the law required by Kerrigan. It ensures equal treatment by removing any potential confusion as to the validity of legal relationships in Connecticut.

Minh Leu – Is a junior at Hall High School in West Hartford. She is puzzled that anti-equality advocates lobby for schools to disregard homosexuality as part of the diversity of America. She has volunteers for Love Make a Family and has lobbied in support of this bill. She was surprised that people of every race, socioeconomic status, age, gender and religion agree with her.

Sharron Emmons and Mary Roche, Janet Peck and Carol Conklin – Have been in long term relationships. Despite their ability to have a civil union they feel that calling their relationship a marriage solidifies that relationship and binds them together more permanently. It means that they are no longer living outside of what is acceptable or normal.

Attorney Maureen M. Murphy – Is a member of the Family Commission and co-founder of the New Haven Academy for Child Advocacy. A large part of her practice is devoted to representing same sex families and she was one of the counsel in Kerrigan. She speaks of the joy that she has seen since the decision. She states that this bill will resolve the contradiction between the ruling and the statutes as well as avoid needless litigation.

Ally Sega – A student of the School of Social Work at UCONN. She is bisexual and is excited that this law would allow her to marry whomever she falls in love with. Additionally, she feels that the change in language and passage of this bill will be a step towards helping people to accept others, regardless of sexual orientation. She hopes that she will no longer have to face the hurtful statements and actions of others in the future.

Mary Elizabeth-Hager Dixon – Feels that heterosexual and homosexual relationships should be treated equally but that churches, synagogues and other religious communities should have the right to sanctify or refrain from sanctifying the union between two people according to their faith's beliefs, tenets and ecclesiastical law.

Obadiah Ballinger and Javen Swanson – Met at students of the Yale Divinity School. They are people of faith and believe in the importance of marriage and family life. They understand the importance of marriage. They are excited that their pending marriage will have true equality in Connecticut.

James Hanley – has known he was gay since his earliest childhood memories and knew that meant he would have to fight hard to be treated fairly. He was married on the first day it was legally possible and was welcomed warmly by everyone in his community. He is proud that Connecticut is one of the first states to attempt to rid discrimination and is a beacon of progress.

Jane Ferrall, Moderator, Greater New Haven PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) – Is the parent of a gay son who states that he would like to be treated just like everyone else. Now that the court has legalized marriage for him, the laws should be updated accordingly. She states that many parents of gay and lesbian children worry that their kids will be targeted or hurt because of their sexual orientation or would become self destructive. She wants to finally be able to annoy all of her children with the question “when are you going to get married?”

Beverly Tremper Prager – She has two daughters, one of which is a lesbian. She and her husband have tried to demonstrate to both daughters that marriage is a commitment not to be taken lightly. They feels that same sex marriage does not threaten the institution of marriage as long as it is entered into with integrity and commitment.

Sally Joughin – Is proud to live in a state that recognizes the rights of all loving couples to marry. This bill clarifies some important situations concerning conversion of civil unions to marriages.

Thomas W. Ude Jr., Senior Staff Attorney, Lambda Legal – Lambda legal is a national organization dedicated to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people through impact litigation and public policy work. This bill furthers many important objectives wile respecting both the unique nature of marriage and the equal protection guarantee of the Connecticut constitution by: addressing the issue of relationship recognition, recognizing that same sex marriage will not jeopardize religious freedom and provide a legal relationship to couples who are currently in civil union

Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League – Believes that the Kerrigan ruling was necessary to protect the rights of same-sex couples and their children. The secular status of marriage confers legal, social and financial benefits that are not otherwise available to citizens and nothing short of marriage conveys the commitment, permanence or legitimacy of a relationship between two people.

Reverend Joshue Mason Pawelek – Urges support of the bill because it brings clarity to our marriage statutes by bringing them inline with the Kerrigan decision, removes demeaning language and allows recognition of similar marriages and civil unions performed in other states as well as urge all state to recognize all Connecticut marriages.

Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. – Believes that this bill would be a step towards acceptance of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. CONNSACS gives testimony regarding the large number of sexual assaults against these people that are 'hate crimes'.

Permanent Commission on the Status of Women – Argue that rules relating to marriage do not have the historical relevance that opponents state. Instead, the laws are always evolving. This bill would eliminate discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Julie Kieras, Matthew M. Kieras, Diane Howard, David C. Howard – Oppose the bill as written and ask for amendments. They are concerned that the bill could be interpreted to condone bestiality, polygamy and pedophilism (sic), will force public school teachers to instruct students in the topic of homosexuality, and infringe upon the religious freedoms of churches and other religious institutions who by virtue of their beliefs are opposed to putting those who are in a homosexual lifestyle in educator/leadership positions.

Peter Wolfgang, President and Lydia Dorsey,Family Institute of Connecticut– Feels the bill must be amended as follows: remove section 2 because is asserts that the rights of the married couple should be recognized in other states, strengthen the language of section 7 to allow Justices of the Peace to refuse to conduct a ceremony and remove section 17 because it condones homosexuality or any equivalent lifestyle.

Pastor Kate Bartos – Presents evidence that a homosexual's median age of death is less than 50 years and feels we should not condone a lifestyle that shortens the life of someone by more than 20-30 years.

Robert E. Muckle – Believes that this bill would promote homosexuality be taught in our school system and offers evidence that the sexual education has adverse affects on young people.

David W. Heughins, PhD. – Feels that the heterosexual marriage is essential to the long-term health of the society, children need to learn to tune their desires to their morals, not vice versa, and freedom of conscience and of expression must be preserved for those who defend traditional moral teaching is democracy is to survive. Marriage is historically heterosexual and we all came into the world as a result of a heterosexual act. If the legislation must pass it needs to be redrawn in such a way that in giving rights to one segment of society it does not take away the rights – and moral foundations – of all the rest.

Rosemarie Lewis – Feels that section 17 of the bill, which repeals section 46a-81r, does not fulfill the purpose of the bill. She worries that this section instead will authorize the promotion of homosexuality or bisexuality in education or require that such lifestyles be taught as acceptable.

Michael Hubenthal – Would like the bill amended to protect religious liberty and feels that the judicial branch has overstepped its bounds by legislating a requirement for recognizing homosexual marriage.

Mark W. Dost – Points out that there is no emergency that requires this legislation because Kerrigan is law. If the law must be passed there should be protections for those who do not share the views of the ruling. Additionally, he is concerned that the impact of this legislation on freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

Connecticut Catholic Conference, Judith Reehm – The Catholic Church still holds firm to its opposition of same sex unions. This is not a conflict driven by hate, but by sincere and faith driven beliefs held by many good people within the state. Same sex couples already have rights with civil unions.

Reported by: Tina LoCasto

Sarah Kolb

Date: 4/8/09