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Conn. Senate passes same-sex civil unions bill; opponents hope it’s defeated in House

HARTFORD, Conn. (BP)–Bucking a nationwide trend, the Connecticut Senate passed a same-sex civil unions bill April 6 with ease, but opponents held out hope that it still could be defeated in the House.

The bill would make Connecticut the second state in the country to legalize same-sex civil unions and the first to do so voluntarily. Vermont’s legislature legalized civil unions following a court order.

Civil unions grant homosexual couples many of the same legal benefits of marriage without using the word “marriage.” California has something similar but calls them “domestic partnerships.”

The bill passed the Connecticut Senate, 27-9, receiving support from 21 Democrats and six Republicans. Six Republicans and three Democrats voted against it.

It now moves to the state House, where it is favored to pass before going to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has indicated her support for civil unions.

Rell and Senate Republicans favored amending the bill so that it explicitly bans same-sex “marriage.” Connecticut has no such law. But such an amendment failed on a 23-13 vote.

The margin in the Senate is veto-proof. Opponents, though, hope the bill either is defeated in the House or that Rell vetoes it and the House fails to override her veto.

“We believe we have a very good chance to stop this in the House,” Brian Brown, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, said, according to the Hartford Courant.

The newspaper reported that the bill’s supporters say they already have the votes for passage in the House.

“This is just the beginning of an ever-widening circle of rights toward more inclusion, not less inclusion,” state Sen. Bill Finch, a Democrat who supported the bill, said, according the Connecticut Post.

Even though the bill is groundbreaking, many, including Finch, vowed to continue fighting for same-sex “marriage.” A “gay marriage” bill failed to make it out of a committee, although a lawsuit in state court seeks same-sex “marriage” legalization.

“It’s a good compromise and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Finch said. “This is great, it’s historic, but it’s not equality.”

Conservatives and traditionalists oppose the bill and say civil unions are virtually identical to same-sex “marriage.”

“This is marriage by a different name. This is same-sex marriage by a different name,” Brown said, according to the Associated Press.

Brown is urging Rell to veto the bill, assuming it passes the House.

“If she truly believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, she has to veto this bill,” he said.

The bill passed one day after Kansans overwhelmingly passed by a margin of 70-30 percent a state constitutional amendment banning both same-sex “marriage” and civil unions.

Kansas became the 18th state to pass a marriage amendment; many of them also ban civil unions. The amendments have passed with an average of 70.2 percent of the vote, with only two (Michigan and Oregon) receiving less than 60 percent support. Three more states will vote on marriage amendments next year, and approximately 15 others are considering them.

Apparently, Connecticut voters oppose same-sex “marriage,” even though they support civil unions. A Quinnipiac University poll released April 7 showed Connecticut voters opposing “gay marriage” by a margin of 53-42 percent but supporting civil unions by a 56-37 percent margin. The opposition to same-sex “marriage” is three points higher than it was last June, while the support for civil unions is three points lower. The poll of 1,541 voters was conducted March 29 to April 4.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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