Gay activists plan to pick up where they left off last legislative session and lobby state lawmakers to legalize marriages of gay people in Connecticut. Opponents, meanwhile, say they plan to continue efforts to oppose any changes to the state's marriage laws. Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, a statewide gay rights coalition, said Wednesday that her group hopes 2003 might be the year lawmakers allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Connecticut would be the first state to grant marriage rights to gay people. "I think our intention is to support a full marriage bill," said Stanback, adding that her group favors marriage over a civil union system. Civil unions offer the same rights and privileges of marriage without allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Marie Hilliard, a member of the Connecticut Catholic Conference and chairwoman of the Pro-Family Coalition, said most state residents oppose marriage rights for gay people. Petitions drawn up by the Knights of Columbus and supported by Hartford archbishop Daniel A. Cronin are being circulated at Catholic churches across the state this month. Hilliard said those petitions will be given to lawmakers when they return to the capitol in January. "I think there are so many other important issues for the state to focus on," Hilliard said. "It is unfortunate there is such a small special interest group seeking to define marriage for all of society."
On Wednesday the legislature's judiciary committee met for the first of several informational hearings to discuss same-sex marriage. The legislature's nonpartisan research staff briefed lawmakers. Under legislation passed last session, the committee is required to study marriages, civil unions, and related issues and submit a report to the full general assembly before January 1.