Connecticut gay rights group decides to back civil unions

BY admin

March 02 2005 1:00 AM ET

A Connecticut gay rights group that was criticized for opposing civil unions in its effort to get state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage has softened its hard-line stance. Love Makes a Family has e-mailed its members, saying it will not lobby against civil unions but will continue to press for same-sex marriage. "Clearly the civil union bill has momentum," Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, said Monday. "We are not going to be working to kill this bill, but we will keep talking to legislators about our hope that they will stand up and speak up for marriage."

The civil unions proposal, which would give gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as married couples, was endorsed last week by the legislature's judiciary committee. Connecticut would become one of only a few states to legally recognize same-sex couples if the bill is approved by the house and
senate and signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

Stanback and other gay and lesbian activists called civil unions "separate and unequal" during a legislative hearing. They also worried that debate over same-sex marriage would end if civil unions were approved. Love Makes a Family's stance against civil unions drew criticism from many gay rights activists as well as from some of its legislative allies. The group's continued opposition to civil unions would have put it in an awkward position of lobbying against a plan that would greatly expand gay and lesbian rights.

Stanback amended her view on Monday. She said she still believes civil unions are inherently unequal but no longer views them as a political dead end. "Would we have liked to get marriage this session and not have a temporary stopover with civil unions? Yes," she said. "But to have a whole group of new legislative leaders who have taken this on as their own struggle is encouraging."

The judiciary committee's cochairmen praised Loves Make a Family for its change of heart. "All-or-nothing strategies are always a bad idea," said Democratic representative Michael Lawlor. "This is the right way to go." The other cochairman, Democratic senator Andrew McDonald, said he also was
pleased the group gave up its effort against civil unions: "I'm gratified that the leadership of LMF is going to be a more active participant in the next stage of our legislative efforts."

Those efforts are expected to face opposition from groups such as the Connecticut Catholic Conference and the Family Institute of Connecticut. Rell has expressed support for the general idea of expanding the rights of gay couples but has not weighed in on the bill's specifics. (AP)

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