The state of Connecticut violates its own constitution by denying same-sex couples the right to marry according to a brief filed this week in the Connecticut Supreme Court by Gay Lesbian Advocates Defenders (GLAD).
GLAD argues that the denial of marriage by the 2005 civil union law is arbitrary and fails to provide gay and lesbian citizens with the equal treatment the constitution requires.
The brief was filed in the ongoing marriage equality case of Kerrigan and Mock v. Department of Public Health.
The gay activists argue that when lawmakers debated and enacted the civil union statute, they recognised that same-sex couples have the same capacity for love and commitment and the same need for protections under marriage laws as heterosexual couples.
While the legislature acknowledged “both the common humanity of gay people and their right to equal treatment in their family lives,” they blinked and placed same-sex couples in a new and separate legal category, instead of granting full equality.
“Everyone recognises that marriage has no substitute in our society,” said Bennett Klein, senior attorney with GLAD. “No other institution garners the same dignity and respect – dignity and respect that these couples and their children deserve as much as anyone. The legislature rationalised discriminating against gay and lesbian citizens by citing personal beliefs, their constituents’ prejudices, and a simple desire to keep gay people separate. None of that is constitutionally legitimate.”
GLAD argues that denying same-sex couples access to marriage violates the state constitution in two ways: gay and lesbian citizens are denied both equal protection and due process.
Kerrigan was filed on August 25, 2004 in New Haven Superior Court on behalf of eight gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses. Justice Patty Jenkins Pittman denied the plaintiffs’ claims at the Superior Court level. It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in spring of 2007.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are couples who have been together for between 9 and 31 years; who are raising a total of 14 children; some of whom have faced illness and some of whom are now facing retirement. They are Beth Kerrigan and Jody Mock of West Hartford, parents of five-year-old twin boys; Janet Peck and Carol Conklin of Colchester, life-long Connecticut residents together for 31 years; Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis of Wilton, who work in New York City and are raising their four-year-old son, Elijah; J.E. Martin and Denise Howard of Stratford, parents of seven-year-old Rachel and four-year-old Ross; Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman of New Haven, who are raising a eleven-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son; John Anderson and Garrett Stack of Woodbridge, together for 26 years, who have a combined 55 years of service to the Stratford public school system; Geraldine and Suzanne Artis of Clinton, parents of an eight-year-old and six-year-old twins; and Gloria Searson and Demaris Navarro, raising four children aged, 21, 18, 17, and 7.