October 1: Same-Sex Civil Unions Become Law in Connecticut

 

On October 1, 2005, Connecticut became the third state in the union to legally recognize same-sex civil unions.  Four years earlier, Vermont became the first state to do so after the Vermont Supreme Court mandated that denying same-sex couples the benefits of marriage violated their state constitution. In 2004, Massachusetts’s Supreme judicial court similarly found that it was unconstitutional to prevent same sex couples from marrying.  Unlike Vermont and Massachusetts,  however, Connecticut’s recognition of same-sex civil unions (Vermont)  and same sex marriage (Massachusetts),was brought about not by judicial fiat, but through legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Jodi Rell in April of 2005.

Appended to the civil union legislation was an amendment that kept the definition of “marriage” as solely between a man and a woman, intended as a compromise to satisfy both gay rights activists and believers in traditional definitions of marriage.  That amendment was rendered null and void in 2008, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that nothing short of full marriage rights for same-sex couples would satisfy the equality and liberty clauses contained in the Connecticut Constitution.  The first same-sex marriage license was issued in Connecticut on November 12, 2008, and the final legal loopholes for gay couples were closed on October 1, 2010, when all previously-issued civil unions were automatically converted into marriages — five years to the day after Connecticut’s civil union legislation first became law.

Further Reading

William Yardley, “Connecticut Approves Civil Unions for Gays,” New York Times