In a move that surprised few and satisfied none, the State Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved a civil unions measure by a wide margin. The bill must pass the House and the full Senate before it gets to the desk of Gov. Rell, but most seem to be predicting that it will succeed.
There are two groups currently opposing the measure: social conservatives (religious groups, etc.) who see it as one more step towards gay marriage and social liberals (groups like Love Makes a Family) who see the measure as inadequate and halfhearted. Both are correct. Civil unions are indeed one step on the road to full marriage rights for gays, and, as such, they are imperfect and unequal.
But for now, they are necessary. Here's the view I think puts it best:
Several lawmakers contrasted Love Makes a Family's all-or-nothing approach with the incremental pace of social change.
"That's how we do things up here, we take things one step at a time," said Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby who supports civil unions. (Altimari)
This is wise. Social conservatives must face the facts: gay marriage will be a reality within the next quarter century. There will never be a federal constitutional amendment against it and so slowly, state by state, it will come to pass. The watershed will probably be a Supreme Court ruling against the blatently unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
But social liberals must face the fact that huge segments of the population are incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage. They see it as a threat to their way of life and to families. These opinions may be neither well-informed or open-minded, but they exist nonetheless and must be reckoned with.
So moving forward in the direction of gay marriage is important, but it is just as important to move slowly and carefully. Society changes but slowly, and trying to force social change inevitably leads to backlash. Case in point? Look around. What are we living in now but the backlash against the violent and sudden social revolutions of the 1960s?
So let's be smart and move forward slowly, coaxing and cajoling the unwilling citizen at a reasonable pace down this road.
As for the bill itself, there is no reason why it ought not to pass. Social conservatives on the committee made no headway with proposals to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, or a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This bodes well for the future of the bill, and so far Gov. Rell has expressed no desire to stop the measure herself.
Patience, everybody. Social conservatives, you'll hopefully come to see that civil unions do not in fact pose a threat to society, and social liberals will see the wisdom of moving with care.
source Altimari, Daniela. "Legislators Back Same-Sex Unions". Hartford Courant 24 February 2005.