Thursday, April 07, 2005

Senate Approves Civil Unions

Poll Shows Support for Bill

Yesterday the state Senate approved a bill granting civil unions to gay couples 27-9. The bill will go to the House of Representatives perhaps as early as next week.

Here's a remarkable statistic:

Half the Senate's 12 Republicans and all but three of its 24 Democrats voted for the measure.

It's refreshing to see broad bipartisan support for this bill, which is the first of its kind in the nation not prompted by legal action that has a chance of becoming law.

A Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows that state residents agree with the Senate; 56% of them agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions. Nationally, only 45% of those polled by Quinnipiac supported civil unions. Only 42% of Connecticut residents supported full marriage rights for same-sex couples, but this is much higher than the national figure of 31%.

This poll thankfully puts to rest a deeply flawed poll commissioned by the Family Institute of Connecticut, a socially conservative group opposed to gay marriage, which suggested, among other things, that 78% opposed same-sex marriages, while only 19% supported it.

One of the central goals of the "Family Institute", forcing a nonbinding referendum on civil unions, was also defeated by the Senate yesterday by the same margin, 27-9.

Now the action shifts to the House, where the bill is expected to pass:

...Proponents said they have 83 solid votes in the House, where 76 votes are necessary for passage. Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, the lead sponsor in the House, said the lopsided Senate vote could win over undecided House members. (Pazniokas)

Governor Rell has also indicated her support for the measure, and is not likely to feel pressured to veto it from far-right groups, especially after a poll released yesterday showed her with an 80% approval rating.

I'm actually quite surprised, although very pleased, at the lack of a fuss this bill has generated. I expect it will pass the House easily, and become law later this year.

Sources Quinnipiac Poll, March 29-April 4 2005.

Pazniokas, Mark. "Senate Backs Civil Unions". Hartford Courant 7 April 2005.


Conn-Tiki said...

Thank goodness for small favors. I'm surprised too; this basically flew under the radar. Good for Connecticut!

Does CT recognize MA's gay marriages? I know they're not *required* to (thank you, DOMA), but do they anyway? It would be fabulous for CT couples to actually have a choice of options.

nedweenie said...

This is good news for once. Hopefully other progressive states will follow suit.

I wrote my Republican Rep asking him to vote yes.

I wonder if Jodi will catch hell from her party when she signs off? But then again, it seems not all civil servants totally toe the party line in this state. Thankfully in this case, that's not a bad thing!

stomv said...

Conn-Tiki raises an interesting point...

is it possible/likely that a state may recognize the marriage of another state before allowing marriage in its own state?

My hunch is that within the next 5 years, we'll have civil-unions (or marriage) in NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, and ME. Perhaps as it becomes more common, a second state in the northeasat will make the leap to marriage, and then recognition will come up for sure.

Genghis Conn said...


An obscure MA law allows only couples who reside in MA to be legally married there. The Romney Administration has decided to selectively enforce it. The courts are working on this obvious violation of the Constitution.


I think Jodi will be just fine. Her approval rating is through the roof, and she's the only chance the Republicans have of controlling any of the branches of state government post-2006.


If a state chooses to ignore DOMA (and I think it can--but I'm not entirely sure) then that's possible, I believe.

stomv said...

The MA law in question is old, but on the books. The MA legislature likely won't touch it until the next MA Constitutional ammendment proposal (doesn't) get passed.

Basically, if the MA legislature doesn't agree to put gay marriage on a ballot next year, than the state legislature will have, at least for the time being, accepted gay marriage... and then there'll be enough momentum to eliminate the old "intend to live in MA" law, which, incidentally, was designed to prevent out-of-state interracial couples from getting married in MA since it was illegal in other states.

If, however, the MA legislature approves putting gay marriage on a ballot, they won't touch the law until the results are in.

Just my guess.

As for ignoring DOMA, I'm sure a state can do so, the question I have is will a state do so?