approves gay marriage bill
By Susan Haigh, AP
from boston.com on the Web, April 13, 2007
HARTFORD, Conn. Apr.12 -- A
bill that would make Connecticut the second state in the nation to allow gay
couples to marry passed its first legislative hurdle Thursday.
The Judiciary Committee voted 27-15 to approve the bill, which next goes to the
House of Representatives, where its prospects are uncertain.
Two years ago, Connecticut approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples,
granting them all of the state rights and privileges of married couples.
But gay rights advocates called on the legislature to take the final step this
session and allow gay couples to marry.
Massachusetts is the only state to allow gay marriage, though several other
states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one
of a handful of openly gay legislators, said marriage and civil unions are not
the same to Connecticut's gay and lesbian couples.
"I suspect Don Imus knows terms matter," said McDonald, referring to the radio
talk show host under fire for racially charged remarks he recently made.
"They have consequences to people in their lives, in their thoughts, in their
It's unclear whether the bill will move further in the legislative process this
year. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who signed the civil unions law,
reiterated Thursday that she believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
Opponents of gay marriage said Connecticut, by passing the civil unions law, has
already made sure that gay and lesbian couples are treated equally under state
"This bill would not give a couple any rights that they do not already have
under the civil union legislation we passed two years ago," said Rep. T.R. Rowe,
R-Trumbull. "The federal government and states that do not recognize civil
unions will not recognize marriage -- same-sex marriages performed in
Rowe said the legislation is not about civil rights, but an effort to radically
redefine a basic institution in society. He said lawmakers should allow
voters this fall to decide whether to change the marriage laws in a nonbinding
resolution -- a proposal that died on a 28-13 vote.
Sen. David Cappiello, R-Danbury, voted for civil unions in 2005. He told
fellow lawmakers he's not ready yet to support gay marriage.
"Maybe it's my upbringing. Maybe it's my background. I still believe
marriage is between one man and one woman," he said. "I can't change that,
at least not at this time."
But an emotional Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said she wants lawmakers to go
that next step. The freshman legislator told of how she entered a civil
union with her partner in the fall of 2005. Her father, a devoted
Catholic, walked her down the aisle and even lit a unity candle at the ceremony.
"My father was moved on this issue because he loved his daughter," she said.
"He wanted me to be happy and when he comes to my house, he sees a happy family.
He thinks of me as married, as much as he thinks of my six siblings as married,"
Bye said. "But the broader world does not see me as married."
Aside from changing the marriage laws to allow same-sex couples to marry, the
bill would create a system that transforms existing civil unions to marriages
and allows people to get out of a civil union before it becomes a marriage.