Connecticut On Verge of Allowing Civil Unions

HARTFORD, Conn. — In another sign that action by government officials is not in sync with common wisdom, the Connecticut State Senate April 6 gave a stamp of approval to immoral living arrangements. The Senate passed so-called “civil unions” legislation in spite of the fact that vast numbers of people in the state support traditional marriage.

The vote took place a day after Kansas voters overwhelmingly approved a state Marriage Amendment. Fourteen states now have held referenda on marriage, with support for traditional marriage in the 70%-80% range.

The Connecticut Senate, voting 27-9, approved the bill S.B. 963, “An Act Concerning Civil Unions,” which would allow persons of the same sex to obtain a civil union license.

A statewide rally in support of traditional marriage is scheduled for April 24 at the State Capitol in Hartford, but the State House of Representatives may approve the measure by then.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she might veto the measure if it does not include language affirming the fact that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. A Republican amendment specifying that fact was defeated on the Senate floor during a four-hour debate April 6.

In the weeks leading up to the Senate vote, Deacon David Reynolds, legislative liaison for the Connecticut Catholic Conference, said the legislation would not only give all the financial benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, but would also make same-sex relationships equivalent to heterosexual relationships and civil unions equivalent to marriage.

The Conference and the Family Institute of Connecticut have launched a media campaign called “Marriage: Let the People Decide.” Brian Brown, executive director of the Family Institute, called the legislation “nothing less than same-sex ‘marriage’ under another name.”

The Church opposes homosexual “marriage” because it’s contrary to natural law and ignores the basic differences between men and women.

Fighting a battle of its own, the California Catholic Conference recently posted this statement on its website: “Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose, as we were recently reminded in the Vatican’s statement, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons.

“In Catholic teaching, marriage is a sacrament that is a covenant in which God’s grace is manifest in the love, reciprocity, fidelity and mutuality of the relationship,” the California conference said. “What is best for children is to be nurtured by married parents in a loving home.”

Seven same-sex couples last year filed a lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court. They contended that the state’s refusal to grant them marriage licenses is a violation of their constitutional rights.

Should the civil unions legislation be approved, “the courts will ask why you’re giving all the rights and privileges of same-sex ‘marriage’ but denying the name,” Brown said. “This is what just happened in California.”

‘Unnecessary’

In Connecticut, the bill’s proponents say they want to prevent discrimination. But Anne Stanback, president of the homosexual rights group Love Makes a Family, initially opposed the bill, saying civil unions would create “a separate but unequal status just for same-sex couples” and that the organization would be satisfied with nothing less than the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”

“We don’t believe that civil unions are the same as marriage,” said Stanback. As it appeared the legislation was on the fast track, her organization withdrew its opposition.

But after the Senate vote she said the organization would continue pushing for same-sex “marriage.” She also said the organization would fight attempts to hold a referendum on the issue.

In the state legislature, Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, are among the bill’s main supporters. Lawlor said he is in favor of civil unions as well as homosexual “marriage.”

He characterized the issue as one of “civil rights” and said the proposed legislation is needed to ensure that same-sex couples have the same tax, inheritance and health care benefits afforded to married couples.

Sen. Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, and Rep. T. R. Rowe, R-Trumbull, the bill’s main opponents, do not see civil unions legislation as a civil rights issue. 

Rowe said the bill is unnecessary.

“The rights that they are looking for are already available,” he said. “If you want to enter into a legal contract whether for health care visits or power of attorney, you can. We ought not radically redefine the institution of marriage to get a targeted group rights they already have.”

Effect on Children

Those against civil unions said one of their main concerns is the children living in such arrangements. Same-sex “marriages” or civil unions force children to live in a permanent state of either motherlessness or fatherlessness, said Brown.

Lawlor stated, “There’s no evidence that those kids are any worse off than others. During public hearings we saw a lot of kids from same-sex unions who are happy, successful and well adjusted.” He said he does not think children of same-sex couples are any more inclined to be homosexual because their parents are.

Brown disagreed, saying, “Two dads or two moms, however loving they may be, cannot make up for a mom and a dad.”

Rowe cited a Harris Interactive poll released March 9 showing that 76% of Connecticut voters want a referendum on a state constitutional amendment protecting marriage. According to the poll, 64% of constituents also agree that marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.

Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, said her constituents would welcome the chance to vote on the issue. “Marriage pre-dates law, government and religion,” said Giuliano. “It really is so fundamental. ... It’s not a question of civil rights.”

Rell has said that she is comfortable with the concept of civil unions, although she has also stated that she believes in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, according to Communications Director Dennis Schain.

The Catholic Conference and the Family Institute support the efforts of DeLuca and Rowe to allow constituents to vote on the issue in a non-binding referendum in November. As a long-term goal, the Conference said it also supports a referendum on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in 2006 or 2008.

Mary Walsh writes from

West Haven, Connecticut.

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