by Martin Magnusson, Editor-at-Large
These two women, who have been together for thirteen years and are raising twin sons, thus sued the state of
Marriage is indisputably a civil institution of unparalleled prestige, respect, and longevity. No other relationship has been described . . . as a unique human relationship and one of the most fundamental of human relationships. No other relationship has been characterized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a way of life, a bilateral loyalty, and a relationship intimate to the degree of being sacred. No other state-recognized relationship can have the same spiritual significance for many couples. . . . Because of marriage’s unparalleled prestige and respect, few heterosexual couples would willingly substitute the nomenclature “marriage” with “civil union.”
The editorial board of the Hartford Courant has backed the plaintiffs, drawing attention to the tremendous meaning of the word “marriage” in our society:
To same-sex couples, one word - marriage - can be life-changing. No matter how long they have been together as a family, no matter how many children they have raised, no matter how much they love each other, only in one state,
, do they have the choice to marry. . . . “Civil union” is the almost-right word, but not the right one. It constitutes a separate status. This is not equality. Yes, the status gives same-sex couples state legal rights that married couples enjoy. But civil unions do not bestow upon them that all-important word, married, a universally understood sign of commitment and social acceptance. Massachusetts
From its very inception, the case has garnered tremendous interest. At the Connecticut Supreme Court level, twenty-one amicus briefs were filed. Including claims by anti-gay groups that “[i]f any two individuals can 'marry' and secure all of the benefits of civil marriage, then civil marriage loses potency as a means of encouraging responsible procreation.” In other words, these opponents of marriage equality argue that allowing same-sex couples to call themselves “married” will lead to more children being born out of wedlock.
In their amicus brief,
As to procreation, it is settled law that to choose whether to bear or beget a child is within the fundamental privacy rights of an individual, whether married or not. Any link that may have existed between marriage and procreation was severed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that married couples enjoy a constitutionally guaranteed right to avoid procreation. . . . There is not support, however, for the contention that the right to marry is linked inextricably to, or founded on, real or assumed procreative capacity. Rather, the courts regularly have recognized the two rights as separate and distinct.
Oral arguments on this case can be accessed as video and audio files.