Morning Report: April 22, 2005

Connecticut approves gay civil unions. News sources report that Connecticut became, on Wednesday, the first state to enact a civil-unions law for gay couples through the legislative process: 'Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the bill about an hour after it was approved 26-8 by the Democrat-controlled Senate. The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, includes an amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Civil unions are reserved only for same-sex couples.' Gay marriage advocates were disappointed that the bill also contained a provision explicitly defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; but many also recognized the law as an important step forward. '"I think we are all going to have to step back and take a deep breath and realize that we need to understand the world is not going to change as the result of this legislation," said Democratic Sen. Andrew McDonald, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of a handful of openly gay legislators.' Gay Patriot (the blog is now being written by GayPatriotWest) has this to say: 'When we look at Connecticut's recognition of same-sex civil unions in this context, we see how huge it is. Yes, many municipalities, universities and private employers, including 200 Fortune 500 companies, offer domestic partnership benefits. Yes, many religious denominations celebrate gay unions, with Reform Judaism recognizing gay marriage. But, until yesterday, no elected state legislature, without having been forced by the courts, passed a bill recognizing same-sex civil unions. When the state's democratically elected Republican governor (albeit elected Lieutenant Governor, but who assumed her current position in accordance with the state Constitution when her predecessor resigned) signed the legislation, the bill became law. Now, the whole nation is watching.' GPW echoes the concern of many gay conservatives that relying on judicial activism will undermine the legitimacy of legal advances for gay rights. Log Cabin Republicans welcomed the new legislation: 'Log Cabin Republicans praise Governor Jodi Rell (R-CT) for signing legislation creating civil unions in Connecticut. "Today Governor Rell becomes the first Governor in history to sign civil union legislation without being forced to do so by the courts. We thank Governor Rell for recognizing that all families deserve basic fairness, including gay and lesbian families," said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Guerriero. Legislation establishing civil unions in Connecticut passed the State House and State Senate by wide margins and with bipartisan support. Governor Rell previously signaled her support for civil unions by stating, "I don't believe in discrimination of any sort, and I want people to have equal rights and equal opportunities." "The Governor's signature on this bill is an important reminder that the fight for basic fairness for gay and lesbian families is a bi-partisan fight," continued Guerriero. ...' (various)