Connecticut Rejects Gay Partner Registry
[HARTFORD, CT] - The Connecticut Legislature's judiciary committee rejected on Wednesday proposed legislation to extend marriage-like rights to same-sex couples.
The proposal would have extended essentially all the rights of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. If the legislation had become law, it would have established a domestic partnership registry similar to a system created by the California Legislature two years ago, but would not go as far as Vermont's civil union law.
Critics argued that the bill was too sweeping and would have become a catalyst for changing the state's marriage laws.
"It seems to me very unclear where this societal change will put us in the next 10 to 20 years," said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a staunch opponent of the proposal.
The bill died on a 26-16 vote, which came after nearly three hours of debate.
"In my heart, I believe people should have equal rights," said Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, a New Haven Democrat. But his constituents don't agree, he said. "I was elected by those constituents to express their (views)."
Much of the debate centered not on civil unions, but marriage. Gay and lesbian activists in the state have repeatedly said they see civil unions as only a stepping stone to full marriage rights.
Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, voted in favor of the measure and advised her colleagues not to get too fixated on the concept of marriage. She said her gay and lesbian constituents told her they don't care what it is called; they just want to have the rights that married people do.
Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, who is gay and the co-chair of the committee, observed that the word "marriage" strikes an emotional chord with most people. "Our job here today is to try to talk about civil rights that can be afforded by the state."
The panel also considered and rejected several amendments, including two expressly stating that Connecticut only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.
In 2001, the committee held an informal hearing on the topic. Last year, the Legislature approved a bill extending limited rights to same-gender couples.