The debate over same-sex marriage rights in Connecticut could soon be decided by the state Supreme Court.
The arguments from both sides were wrapped up in court yesterday, but the decision will probably be months in coming.
Eight same-sex couples originally filed the lawsuit in August 2004. They believe that when they were denied the ability to marry, their rights to equality were violated.
The couples have been together between 13 and 31 years. The decision is expected to take months.
Connecticut was the first state to allow civil unions without court pressure, but same-sex couples cannot marry in the state.
Attorney Bennet Klein told AP: “What is denied to these families is something that goes to the heart of equal protection, which is the right to be part of the fabric of society when they are just the same as other couples and other families.”
However, the state is arguing that the civil unions the state offers do provide equality, and that the issue should be left to legislators.
“All of those rights and benefits, at least under state law, have been granted,” Assistant Attorney General Jane Rosenberg told AP. “From a legal perspective, there are no rights that have been taken away from that group and, in fact, equal rights have now been given to that group.”
If the judges were to find in favour of the gay couples, they could order an overhaul of Connecticut’s marriage laws which would have national ramifications.
The only state which currently allows same-sex couples to marry is Massachusetts, while Connecticut, Vermont, California, New Jersey, Maine and Washington have laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnership.
A civil union law is expected to take effect in New Hampshire in January.