Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the state law to update 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.
Thursday, Rell signed Senate Bill 899, which coincides with a court ruling last fall to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
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.
“Four years ago this week, Governor Rell signed our groundbreaking civil union law, which had broad bipartisan support. Today she signed another landmark piece of bipartisan legislation affirming the rights and dignity of all Connecticut’s citizens. Our legislature and our governor now have ratified the Supreme Court’s decision, and today all three branches of Connecticut’s government speak with one voice: discrimination has no place in our state and will be eradicated wherever it appears,” Sen. Andrew J. McDonald said in a statement.
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.