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Connecticut civil
unions bill gains more support

Connecticut civil
unions bill gains more support

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A bill that would make Connecticut the first state to voluntarily recognize civil unions for same-sex couples will definitely stop short of allowing same-sex couples to wed, Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal ruled Wednesday. Gov. M. Jodi Rell had requested the opinion before throwing her support behind the bill, which was to be debated Wednesday afternoon in the state house of representatives. "This bill clearly in no way expands the definition of marriage to same-sex couples," Blumenthal told WVIT-TV Wednesday morning. "By its express terms as well as its legislative history and intent, the statute would maintain the current definition of marriage, which applies only to opposite-sex couples." Rell had said that if Blumenthal was unclear or ruled the other way, she would not sign the bill unless the house of representatives passed an amendment defining marriage solely as a union of one man and one woman. The state senate overwhelmingly approved the bill last week. The house is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday; supporters believe they have enough votes to pass the measure and send it to Rell's office. Opponents still held out hope of killing the bill. The Family Institute of Connecticut said it expected more than 1,000 people to attend a morning rally on the capitol steps to protest the legislation and call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. "The families that will come to the capitol tomorrow represent the diversity that makes up our state. African-American, white, and Hispanic; Republican and Democrat; Catholic, Protestant, Jewish--all of us will come together to let our legislators know that the overwhelming majority of Connecticut residents oppose same-sex marriage," said Brian Brown, executive director of the Family Institute. Opponents of civil unions say they see no difference between marriage and civil unions. Under the bill, same-sex couples would receive all the rights and privileges of marriage but would not be eligible to receive a marriage license. If the bill passes in the house, Brown said his group will pressure Rell to veto the legislation. Attempts to pass similar amendments in various committees and in the senate have failed. Opponents of such amendments have said it is unnecessary to define marriage in statute because it is obvious in Connecticut that marriage is limited to one man and one woman. Earlier Tuesday, a letter signed by 79 law professors from the state's three law schools--at Quinnipiac University, the University of Connecticut, and Yale University--was distributed to legislators stating that such an amendment is not needed because it would have no legal effect. "Indeed, the very structure of the civil union bill, in creating a parallel mode of recognition for same-sex couples that is separate from marriage, is designed to create a second, distinct institution," the professors wrote. They also argue that if the bill is amended, the matter would have to be resolved with the senate. That would delay the bill's final implementation. Vermont has approved civil unions, and Massachusetts has same-sex marriage, but the changes came only after lawsuits were brought by gay and lesbian couples. (AP)

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