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Lawmakers push
for marriage equality in Connecticut

Lawmakers push
for marriage equality in Connecticut

Gay rights advocates in Connecticut said on Wednesday they would introduce legislation that aims to make the state the second in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, but they face tough opposition. Democratic state senator Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor said they would file the bill before a February 14 deadline for new legislation. "We'll treat same-sex couples exactly the same way we'll treat opposite-sex couples," said Lawlor, also a Democrat. Neighboring Massachusetts is the only U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal. Vermont, New Jersey, and Connecticut recognize same-sex civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples largely the same rights as married couples, including group insurance coverage, tax benefits, and hospital visitation rights. But civil unions lack federal benefits. Couples cannot file joint federal tax returns, nor do they share reciprocal pension rights. Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, who approved Connecticut's same-sex civil union bill in 2005, opposes same-sex marriage. Activists on both sides of the socially divisive issue say her opposition could stall the proposed legislation. Gay rights opponent Brian Brown of the Family Institute of Connecticut said a survey conducted by his organization showed 76% of voters in the state wanted the issue to be decided by a referendum instead of by the Democratic-led legislature. "Time and time again, when this question is put to voters, the voters say, 'We know what marriage is, we know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, we know what the concept of same-sex marriage is, and we don't want it,'" said Brown. Brown's group is urging lawmakers to propose an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. The Connecticut supreme court is also weighing the right to same-sex marriage. It is expected to hear oral arguments soon in a case of gay and lesbian couples who are challenging a lower court's ruling that civil unions give same-sex couples the same equality as marriage. (Reuters)

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