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Archive for Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Conn. A.G.: Out-of-state civil unions will be recognized

September 21, 2005

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— Connecticut will recognize civil unions and possibly domestic partnerships from other states and foreign countries when a new law allowing civil unions takes effect here Oct. 1.

But Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday that Connecticut will not recognize same-sex marriages from Massachusetts because the legislature has defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

"Civil unions performed in other states are entitled to full faith and credit in Connecticut. ... Out-of-state same-sex marriages have no legal force and effect here," Blumenthal wrote in a legal opinion requested by the state's Department of Public Health, which administers marriage licenses.

Married same-sex couples will, however, be able to enter into civil unions in Connecticut.

Currently, Vermont is the only other state that allows civil unions. Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriages. Several states, including California, New Jersey and Maine, allow some form of same-sex domestic partnership.

Blumenthal said Connecticut will recognize the California partnerships but needs to review the laws in New Jersey, Maine and other states and countries to see how they match up with Connecticut's civil unions law.

Gay rights activists said Blumenthal's ruling emphasizes the need to replace civil unions with full marriage rights. Under Connecticut's law, couples in civil unions get all the same rights and privileges as married heterosexual couples but are not permitted to marry.

Mary Bonauto, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, said Massachusetts couples who work in Connecticut will have to ignore their marriages and get civil unions to have the same legal protections.

Same-sex marriage opponents said Blumenthal's ruling points to the need for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Brian Brown, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, predicted gay rights advocates will challenge Connecticut's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

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