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Opponents of
Connecticut civil unions promise a fight

Opponents of
Connecticut civil unions promise a fight

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Legislation allowing same-sex civil unions in Connecticut may have sailed through the state senate, but opponents warned Thursday they're not ready to give up. If they can't kill the bill in the house of representatives, there are plans to pressure Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, to veto the proposal. A rally is planned on April 24 at the state capitol to show opposition to civil unions, and organizers are promising 25,000 people. "I don't see it as a done deal at all," said Brian Brown, president of the Family Institute of Connecticut. The senate voted 27-9 on Wednesday in favor of the bill, which would give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples, except for a marriage license. Democratic representative Michael Lawlor, cochairman of the judiciary committee, predicted the bill will pass in the house, possibly as early as next week. Lawlor estimated that about 90 out of the 151 house members support the legislation. But opponents claim those numbers depend on whether the bill is amended to define marriage in Connecticut statutes as the union of a man and a woman. Rell reiterated Thursday that she supports such an amendment. "I continue to support marriage between a man and a woman, but I support the concept of civil unions. I support codifying marriage between a man and a woman," she said. The momentum behind the civil unions bill could be slowed, however. House minority leader Robert Ward, a Republican from North Branford, said he plans to ask that the bill be referred to the legislature's planning and development committee for consideration. The panel has oversight of bills that affect municipalities. The proposal would have an impact on town clerks, who would handle civil unions paperwork. If that happens, it could take seven to 10 days before the house takes up the bill, house speaker James Amann said. Ward said he is not attempting to kill the bill. Rather, he said, it makes sense to give the public a longer opportunity to comment on the legislation. Ward said he would support civil unions if the term marriage is defined. If that doesn't happen, Ward did not rule out voting in favor of the bill. Meanwhile, a day after the historic senate vote, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 56% of registered voters in Connecticut back civil unions. When it comes to allowing same-sex couples to marry, 53% of those polled oppose such a change. "Connecticut voters are more liberal than the rest of the nation on the issues of same-sex civil unions and gay marriage. They support one but not the other," poll director Douglas Schwartz said. "Voters nationwide oppose both civil unions and gay marriage." In a breakdown of poll results according to political party affiliation, a majority of Democrats back both civil unions and same-sex marriage, 66% and 53%, respectively. Republicans are narrowly divided on civil unions, 45% in favor and 48% opposed, but 70% oppose gay marriage. Younger people are more likely to support civil unions. Respondents age 65 and older were the only group to oppose civil unions, according to the survey. Meanwhile, the only group to support gay marriage was 18- to 29-year-olds. "It's possible that as younger generations replace older generations, support for gay marriage and civil unions will increase, because young people right now are strong supporters of both civil unions and gay marriage," Schwartz said. (AP)

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