HARTFORD, Conn. (BP)–Demonstrating the progress homosexual activists have made in recent years, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed a same-sex civil unions bill into law April 20, making the state the first to pass such a law without a court mandate.
Rell, a Republican, signed the bill into law shortly after the Connecticut Senate passed the bill 26-8. It previously had passed the House. The new law means that beginning Oct. 1 homosexual couples will be able to join in state-sanctioned unions that grant them most of the legal benefits of marriage.
Connecticut joins Vermont as the only states to legalize civil unions. Massachusetts is still the only state with same-sex “marriage.” But the laws in Massachusetts and Vermont were court-ordered. The Connecticut bill was passed voluntarily. Another state, California, has domestic partnerships, although they are not as expansive as civil unions. California’s law also was passed voluntarily.
“Civil unions are marriage without the name. In fact, it’s an attempt by same-sex marriage advocates to cut away at marriage,” Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with the pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. “They have publicly stated that the fight won’t end with civil unions. It’s a gradual chipping away until they ultimately win their prize — which is the name included.”
Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government. According to the Associated Press, a homosexual couple in Connecticut wanting a civil union must visit a town clerk’s office and fill out a civil union license application. The union ceremony then can be performed by anyone who is sanctioned to perform marriages.
The Connecticut law bucks a national trend against homosexual relationships. Last year alone 13 states passed constitutional amendments protecting the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning “gay marriage.” All total, 18 states have passed marriage amendments, and more are certain to follow. They have proven overwhelmingly popular, passing with an average of 70 percent of the vote. Many of them also ban civil unions. The amendments protect state law against Massachusetts-type court rulings.
Even though the civil unions bill was a loss for pro-family groups, it was not a complete victory for homosexual activists, who had hoped to see the legislature legalize “gay marriage” instead. They were further disappointed when the bill was amended to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
“Connecticut’s legislature has recognized the existence and reality of same-sex families and has stepped up to the plate to provide those families with much-needed protections,” Mary L. Bonauto, an attorney with the legal group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement. “They have not chosen the simplest, fairest way to provide those protections -– marriage –- but we look forward to the time when Connecticut’s same-sex couples will be able to legally wed.”
Same-sex “marriage” may still find its way to Connecticut — even if the legislature and the governor don’t want it. GLAD is part of a lawsuit seeking the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Despite the civil unions law, the lawsuit will continue, GLAD officials say. GLAD was the legal organization that successfully sued in Massachusetts and Vermont.
Gov. Rell had said she would sign the bill as long as it was amended to define marriage in the traditional sense. While the language is intended to protect the state from a state court ruling, it likely won’t provide much protection. In recent months both California and Washington state have seen their laws protecting the traditional definition of marriage overturned by state judges. The rulings are being appealed. Neither state has a constitutional marriage amendment.
Schowengerdt said the civil unions law itself undermines marriage.
“The government gives benefits through marriage because marriage has a great benefit to the state — particularly steering procreation into marriage and creating a stable environment for kids,” he said. “It has no such interests with civil unions.”
Pro-family leaders in Connecticut promised to take the issue to the public when legislators are up for re-election in 2006.
“This vote will not be forgotten,” Brian Brown, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, was quoted as saying in the Hartford Courant. “If the goal was to push this through in a non-election year, they were 100 percent wrong.”
Connecticut is one of eight states involved in “gay marriage” lawsuits. Conservatives and traditionalists say the lawsuits point to the need for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage