HARTFORD, Conn. (BP)–Connecticut moved one step closer toward legalizing Vermont-style civil unions Feb. 23 when a civil unions bill breezed through a key legislative committee.
The bill — which would give homosexual couples most of the state legal benefits of marriage — passed the judiciary committee by a vote of 25-13. If it passes the House and Senate and is signed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, it would become law.
Connecticut would join Vermont as the only states to offer civil unions, which avoid the term “marriage” but nonetheless are opposed by pro-family groups. California offers domestic partnerships, similar to civil unions.
Massachusetts is the only state to recognize same-sex “marriage.”
The move in Connecticut comes as nearly 20 states nationwide consider amendments banning same-sex “marriage.” Some of those amendments also would ban civil unions.
Connecticut, though, is going against the tide. Vermont’s civil unions and Massachusetts’ same-sex “marriages” were court-ordered. Connecticut’s law would be voluntary.
“We have an opportunity to provide a huge step forward for equal rights,” state Sen. Andrew McDonald, a Democrat and an open homosexual, said, according to the Hartford Courant newspaper.
Civil unions supporters call the bill a compromise, but traditionalists aren’t buying it.
“Such action would be ill advised for any legislator who truly wants to defend traditional marriage,” the Connecticut Catholic Conference said in a statement. “Civil union legislation, such as in Vermont, is basically same-sex marriage legislation by another name.”
Surprisingly, the civil unions bill is finding opposition from many of the state’s homosexual activists, who want only full-blown same-sex “marriage.”
“We believe civil unions would write second-class citizenship into our law,” Anne Stanback, president of the homosexual group Love Makes a Family, was quoted as saying in The Danbury News Times. “We feel that [civil unions] would be a step backward for Connecticut.”
The judiciary committee is a joint committee of both the House and Senate. State Rep. Arthur O’Neil, a Republican and a committee member, voted against the bill.
“I believe we should treat equals equally, but to say two plus two equals five is wrong,” O’Neil said during the meeting, according to The News Times. “Marriage is between a man and a woman, [and] to call it a civil union because it provides more of a comfort level in voting for it is problematic and will not withstand long-term scrutiny.”
An attempt to put the civil unions bill to a statewide vote was defeated, 28-10, The News Times reported.
Even though some homosexual activists say the bill doesn’t go far enough, they may still get their way: A lawsuit seeking to legalize “gay marriage” is pending in state court. Connecticut has no law protecting the traditional definition of marriage.
Rell has said she opposes same-sex “marriage” but is open to the idea of civil unions.
“The governor believes in equal rights and opposes discrimination in any form, against any couple, no matter what their gender,” Rell spokesman Dennis Schain told the Yale Daily News last year. “In terms of protecting rights of couples, we would need to see the specifics of legislative proposals aimed at accomplishing that.”
State Sen. John Kissel, a Republican, said his constituents oppose the bill.
“Way back when the issue of same-sex couples adopting children came up, I voted against it because I thought it was one step toward same-sex marriage, but people assured me ‘no, no, no,’” Kissel was quoted as saying in The News Times. “Civil unions, to be very honest, I think is one step toward a gay marriage.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage