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Connecticut governor supports civil unions for gays

Connecticut governor supports civil unions for gays

Republican Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell revealed Tuesday that she supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions, putting an end to questions about where she stood on the issue. Her move added to the growing momentum behind a civil unions bill, which was approved last week by the legislature's judiciary committee. "I don't believe in discrimination of any sort, and I want people to have equal rights and equal opportunities," Rell said. The bill would give gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as married couples. The governor said she had not evaluated the legislation but offered her unqualified support for the concept for the first time. "The concept I don't have trouble with," Rell told reporters after a ceremony at the capitol for new judges. Rell, who has repeatedly said she opposes same-sex marriage, had been giving mixed signals on her view about civil unions until Tuesday. In 1991, when she was a state legislator, she voted for passage of a gay rights law. But a few months ago she questioned the need for such legislation. Advocates for gay and lesbian rights, who had expected Rell to be supportive, welcomed Rell's remarks on Tuesday. "Governor Rell voted in '91 to end discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens in housing, employment, and other areas," said Anne Stanback, president of the gay rights coalition Love Makes a Family. "It's not surprising to me she wants to continue to provide protections and rights for all Connecticut citizens." Although the state has had a gay rights law for nearly 14 years, the idea of civil unions for same-sex couples was considered politically impossible as recently as two years ago. "The big picture is that a lot of people, the governor included, are thinking about this and changing the way they view it," said Democratic representative Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven, cochairman of the judiciary committee. Lawlor said Rell's statement of support can only help attract undecided lawmakers to the legislation, which already seems to be on the way to passage. Love Makes a Family had opposed a civil unions bill, saying it would not go far enough. The coalition dropped its opposition to the concept this week but still plans to lobby for marriage. Groups opposed to civil unions and same-sex marriage plan to oppose any such plans. Connecticut would be the first state to allow civil unions without court intervention.

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