Gay Marriage Bill Goes to Gov.

Despite objections from faith-based groups, the Connecticut House and Senate passed a bill to change state law to allow same-sex marriage.

In a night filled with debate, Connecticut lawmakers voted Wednesday night to pass a bill updating the state's marriage laws to redefine marriage in Connecticut as the legal union of two people. State law previously defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Senate Bill 899 coincides with a court ruling last fall to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. 

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 28-7. State Representatives votes 100-44 in favor of the measure.   The bill will transform all civil unions into marriages as of October 1, 2010, unless they've been annulled or dissolved. Many couples with civil unions already have sought marriage licenses since the court decision.

Proponents say the legislation is needed to phase out civil unions and make sure same-sex couples conform to the state's marriage laws.

In an effort to appease some opponents of gay marriage, lawmakers amended the bill to show they want to protect religious liberties

“The right for gay couples to marry is clashing with somebody’s religious beliefs and I think it’s important for the legislature to strike a balance,” Rep. Vincent Candelora, of North Branford, said.
Those in favor of the bill said opponents are distorting the facts and that there were already are two religious exemptions.

“One that clearly says clergy are not required to perform or recognize these marriages and that places of worship are not required to have anything to do with them if they choose not to,” Anne Stanback, of Loves Makes A Family, said.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell is expected to sign the bill into law, according to a spokesman for her office.

Rell has said in the past she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

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