National Catholic Register

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Connecticut Marriage Fight

Bishops Back Constitutional Convention

BY Register Staff

October 19-25, 2008 Issue | Posted 10/14/08 at 12:38 PM

 

HARTFORD, Conn. — When Connecticut justices voted to force same-sex “marriage” on the state, they provoked a firestorm.

The Catholic bishops of Connecticut are backing a November ballot initiative that would change the state’s constitution in hopes of protecting marriage.

That decision came Oct. 10, the same day the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state must allow same-sex “marriage.”

“The bishops of Connecticut have been cautious as they’ve approached this question,” said Michael Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, speaking of Question 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot. But because of the court’s decision in Kerrigan vs. Commissioner of Public Health, he told the Register, “the Connecticut Catholic Conference will take a more aggressive stand on this issue and urge the 1.3 million Catholics of the state of Connecticut to vote Yes.”

Connecticut is the latest state whose highest court has determined that homosexuals have the constitutional right to “marry,” following Massachusetts and California. The long-awaited Kerrigan decision was released Oct. 10, almost two weeks after a coalition of pro-marriage groups held a rally urging a yes vote on the ballot question.

That rally on Sept. 28, organized by the non-partisan, non-sectarian Family Institute of Connecticut, drew almost 3,000 people to the state capitol in Hartford. Backers of Question 1 hope it will lead to amending the constitution to allow for direct initiative, where voters would have a say on laws such as same-sex “marriage.”

Coincidentally, the Family Institute was conducting a poll on the ballot question the day of the court decision and was expecting to announce results Oct. 14, after this issue of the Register went to press.

The Kerrigan decision, written by Justice Richard Palmer, ordered the reversal of a 2006 decision by the Superior Court upholding Connecticut’s same-sex “marriage” ban. It said that separating heterosexual and homosexual couples into marriage and civil unions, which Connecticut has allowed since 2005, “constitutes a cognizable harm.” The state’s policy of allowing only civil unions for same-sex couples is discriminatory, the decision said.

“The Family Institute of Connecticut opposed the passage of civil unions in 2005,” Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the institute, told the Register. “We warned the Legislature that it would be used by the court to find the law against same-sex ‘marriage’ discriminatory.”

A statement issued by the Family Institute of Connecticut called the decision a “usurpation of democracy.”

“Even a Legislature as liberal as ours has heeded the will of the people and said no to same-sex ‘marriage’ year after year,” said Wolfgang in a statement. If Ballot Question 1 passes, he said, “we will put a question on the ballot to allow the public — not our robed masters — to decide once and for all if marriage will be protected in our state constitution as the union of a man and a woman.”

But that will be another fight.

An hour before the decision was issued, the Hartford Courant newspaper was running an online reader survey about “gay couples’ right to marry in Connecticut.” Seventy-one percent of respondents said they supported that right, while 21% said they did not.

Register staff