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Friday, October 10, 2008

Connecticut decides for equality!

"Let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
Amos 5:24

This morning, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of recognizing equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian people. The article in the New York Times gives details about the 4-3 decision of the justices and the history of how Connecticut was the first state to grant civil union status to same-sex couples in 2005.

Of particular note is the reference to the "separate but equal" status that Jim Crow laws imposed upon African Americans and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that stipulated that separate, though allegedly parallel structures, are inherently unequal. Today's article stated:

The ruling went to the heart of the question of whether civil unions and marriage can be viewed as separate but equal institutions. In the majority opinion, Justice Palmer wrote that they could not be, because the difference between marriage and civil unions was not just that of nomenclature.

“Although marriage and civil unions do embody the same legal rights under our law, they are by no means equal,” Justice Palmer wrote. “The former is an institution of transcendent historical, cultural and social significance, whereas the latter most surely is not.”

While some such as Peter Wolfgang, of the right-wing Family Institute of Connecticut, are whining about the court's decision and saying “We thought all along that the court would usurp the democratic process and force same-sex marriage on Connecticut,” Justice Palmer's reference to the foundational civil rights decision places today's ruling in the context of the need for judicial protection of civil rights, especially when those rights are threatened by a popular appeal to tradition.

Connecticut is now the third state to recognize equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, joining Massachussetts and California. Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii all have some sort of domestic parnership legislation, which is at least a step in the right direction.

Within the United Church of Christ, we have been speaking out for many years in favor of equal rights for LGBT persons, with General Synod 25 passing the "Eaual Marriage Rights for All" resolution in 2005. I celebrate today's decision with my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Connecticut who can now enjoy the same rights that my wife and I do and I look forward to the day when every state will recognize the equal rights of all people.

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