Monday, October 03, 2005

Civil(ized) Unions

On Saturday, civil unions between gay couples were officially recognized by the state of Connecticut. Today, some couples will be, er, united? unionized? by the power of the state.

The most remarkable thing about the new law's implementation is that no one seems to care. If this were any other state, there would be rallies, national news coverage and probably Fred Phelps, James Dobson and Rosie O'Donnell. With the exception of a tiny rally in Hartford by the "CT Family Institute" (an offshoot of Dobson's Focus on the Family) and brief mentions on cable news, we have had none of those things.

Stories will start trickling out about newly united couples, and perhaps we'll see some of those on the news. In reality, though, the ban on cell phones while driving has raised much more of a ruckus, and has inspired greater passions in us than civil unions.

The calmness of this period could mean two things. Firstly, it could mean that the compromise struck by the legislature (civil unions instead of marriage and a definition of marriage as heterosexual only) was the correct one for our time and place. Conservatives can be satisfied that there is not yet full marriage rights for homosexuals and that marriage has been defined in our laws as being between one man and one woman. Liberals can be satisfied that Connecticut is one of only a small handful of states that recognize unions of any kind between gay couples, and the first to do so without a court order.

Of course, everybody could just be waiting for the other shoe to drop. There is a court case winding its way through the system now that may end up with the state Supreme Court ordering the legislature to implement full gay marriage, as in Massachusetts. This could happen as early as next year.

For now, however, the decorum of our citizens during these potentially volatile times speaks well of us, and may yet provide an example for the rest of the country.

11 comments:

stomv said...

If this were any other state, there would be rallies, national news coverage and probably Fred Phelps, James Dobson and Rosie O'Donnell.

Um... I think had you said almost any other state, I'd agree.

I think RI and ME would also be under the radar, as would HI. Still, it shows how out of touch the national GOP is on social issues for Nutmegers.

Genghis Conn said...

Well, all right. Good point. But there are very few other places where the response would be this low-key.

Quinn said...

Most, though not all, Republicans in the state are fiscal conservatives, not social conservatives. You don't for example, see a lot of evangelicals prancing about.

I agree that the fact that this is not marriage has mitigated the response. More importantly, I feel, is that this is not court-ordered. People feel that this was a Democratic process. If the courts had ordered this, then I do beleive that a similar backlash would have occured here as in Massachusetts. Politicians would have taken one look at the polls and the letters from their Catholic congregation and immediately decided that it was the perfect time for a self-righteous crusade against the courts imposing their will upon the people and their elected representatives. The same legislature, I feel, that voted for this civil unions bill would have voted for some sort of Amendment to ban gay marriage.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Democratic caucus has even less backbone than that of Massachusett's. Maybe since we retreated before the court's even gave an order than we would have surrendered once they had.

Anonymous said...

Quinn:

I think you're right on target on the response of the legislature to a court ordered marriage bill. Massachusetts has a provision which requires the legislature to pass a proposed constitutional amendment through two consecutive legislative sessions. In the first session, in the immediate reaction to the court ruling, it passed. Only after the time passed to the second session did it fail. If the Connecticut court ordered such a result, no doubt the Connecticut legislature would have reacted in a similar fashion, and it would have been on the next state-wide ballot as a referendum question.

Democracy may be messy and sometimes too slow, but it is far better to work these problems through the relatively open process of politics, where most people at least feel they have a chance to give their say.

Genghis Conn said...

A good analysis, Quinn. I think you're exactly right. The legislature is pretty territorial, and would have reacted badly to orders coming from the court. We'll have to see what happens if the court does mandate same-sex marriage.

As a side note, I'd like to see evangelicals prance.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Malloy was one of the first to conduct a civil union ceremony. I would be interested to know if other pols have participated.

Anonymous said...

John DeStefano had it on his website calander that New Haven City Hall would be open for business as far as civil unions are concerned

ooops said...

Frankly, I think the legislature would welcome a court order. It would take the pressure off of them. CT and CA are the only states in the nation that have any chance of getting bills through the legislature. The Senate is there and the House is just afraid that they'll lose their seats if they vote for marriage.

Of course, if they looked at national data for one second they would see that voting for pro-glbt policies does not in any way hurt re-election chances.

Last year Kerry outperformed Gore in the three battleground states that had anti-gay referenda. AND, only 36 state reps lost seats for voting on pro-gay policies...and ten of those were to candidates who were more pro-gay than they were.

AND, in Mass. not one rep who voted against the constitional amendment lost their seat while several anti-gay legislators did.

ooops said...

A good run down of civil unions on this blog...

http://billandkent.com/

Moderate Republican said...

Quinn,

Right on with how we Republicans in the state are. I have no problem with civil unions (or even gay marraige).

Live and let live...people should be able to associate with whom they please.

Now you Dems wanting higher taxes, now we have something to fight about :)

Moderate Repub

Conn-Tiki said...

Connecticut has patrician reserve *down*