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Connecticut judge
says civil unions are equal to marriage

Connecticut judge
says civil unions are equal to marriage

A Connecticut superior court judge ruled Wednesday that because civil unions provide the same protections and rights for gay couples as marriage, the difference in name alone between the two legal arrangements is not enough to cause legal harm under the state's constitution. Eight gay couples sued the state on the grounds that civil unions were inferior to marriage and were of unconstitutional separate-but-equal status, but the judge disagreed. "Civil union and marriage in Connecticut now share the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law," Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman in New Haven wrote, according to the Associated Press. "The Connecticut constitution requires that there be equal protection and due process of law, not that there be equivalent nomenclature for such protection and process." But Ben Klein, a senior attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which represented the couples in their bid to obtain marriage licenses, said that reasoning was incorrect. "Not many married couples would trade in their marriage for a civil union," Klein told the AP. "The legislature set up civil unions to deny the benefits of marriage. Marriage is the most respected institution, and [state legislators] did not want gay couples to get access to marriage." Civil unions were created in 2005 when Republican governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law a bill passed by Connecticut's Democrat-controlled legislature, which included language stating that marriage is between a man and a woman. Jenkins Pittman ruled that the rights afforded by civil unions are identical to those that come with marriage. "Though they argue that separate is never equal, they have been subjected to no tangible separation at all," she wrote of the plaintiff couples. "And the court rejects the argument that the rhetorical separation of marriage versus civil union is enough to invoke an equal protection or due process analysis." She added that it's up to the legislature to change the name of civil unions to marriage. The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling, reports the AP. (The Advocate)

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