PRESIDING CHAIRMEN: Senator McDonald
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
SENATORS: Kissel, Cappiello, Coleman, Gomes, Meyer, Roraback
REPRESENTATIVES: Fox, O'Neill, Adinolfi, Aman, Barry, Berger, Bye, Dillon, Fritz, Geragosian, Giegler, Godfrey, Gonzalez, Hamm, Hamzy, Hovey, Hurlburt, Klarides, Labriola, McCluskey, McMahon, Morris, O'Brien, Olson, Powers, Rowe, Serra, Spallone, Staples, Tong, Walker, Wright
SENATOR MCDONALD: Good afternoon, and welcome, everybody, to the Judiciary Committee.
Obviously, there are a number of people here. We also have an overflow room in 2A, and the Capitol Police have asked me to make sure everybody knows that they need to have a seat in this room.
If you are not able to find a seat, then we would ask that you retire to Room 2A where there is a live feed of this public hearing and there are many people already there. You won't be lonely, and you will hear everything that is going to be taking place before the Committee today.
I just want to, because the room is so full, I want to make sure that everybody knows, again, that the exit ways must remain clear and there are, obviously, two exits at that end of the room.
If there is an emergency for any reason, you're requested to calmly leave the hearing room through those two exits. Do not use these doors behind me. They are not fire exits.
We have a number of people who have signed up for the public hearing. We have four officials from state agencies who are here to testify today and, normally, the first hour of that, of the public hearing is reserved for testimony from state agency heads or chief elected officials. I don't anticipate that taking place today. I don't think we'll need the entire hour.
However, I do just want to mention that we have dozens and dozens of people who have signed up to testify today. We are going to stay here until everybody is heard, and if you have not yet signed up, we would ask that you do so by signing up by the door and we will be certain to reach each and every person who wants to testify.
In order for us to do that, however, we are going to remind everybody that there is a time limit of three minutes per testimony. Now, we normally, on the Judiciary Committee, try to give a little leeway, and you will hear a buzzer, or bell, I guess, when your three minutes is up.
I am going to give probably ten to 15 seconds after that for you to conclude your remarks if you're going past the three minutes.
And I want to be certain that everybody knows, no matter which side of this issue you might be testifying, that is going to be very firm and unyielding.
So I apologize in advance if it's abrupt, but we will not be able to hear everybody unless we adhere to those rules. So please, tailor your testimony accordingly.
Also, if you have heard somebody testify before that has adequately, or sufficiently, addressed your feelings, it might save some time if you just allude to that.
I should also mention that we have, many of you have submitted testimony in advance of today, today's public hearing. It's not a requirement that you have written testimony, although it is helpful for Members of the Committee, and all of that testimony has already been scanned. It's actually on line and is available to anybody now and in the future.
I should also mention that this public hearing is being transmitted over the CT Network and so, if you wish, you can go home and watch your testimony again, where you will be immortalized, I guess, at least in the realm of public access television.
And I should mention that this is a very busy day here at the General Assembly. There are a number of hearings that are going on. The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, the Education Committee, a number of hearings are going on and you will see Members of the Committee coming in and out.
It's not because they're not interested in hearing testimony, it's oftentimes that they're trying to be in many places at one time.
There are also, I should just let you know, live feeds into the, into the office of all Legislators. It's not uncommon for Legislators to listen to testimony while they're in their office doing other work, and you will see people coming in and out and lights going on and off.
We will, and frankly, as I said, if you want your testimony to be part of the official record of the General Assembly, and you haven't yet submitted it and wish to do so, we'd be happy to accept it later, but it is always preferred if it is in advance.
Having said that, we will begin with the first person to testify from the state agency list, and it's Comptroller Nancy Wyman. Good afternoon, Madam Comptroller.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald and distinguished Members of the Judiciary Committee.
For the record, I am State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, and I am here to testify in support of Raised House Bill 7395, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY.
I can sum up my support for this bill in one sentence. To violate the rights of a few, is to violate the rights of all, and until Connecticut recognizes the marriage of same-sex couples, the rights and liberties promised in our federal and State Constitution, are lessened for every one of us.
We have all heard the facts about how those, how those in a civil union, as opposed to a marriage, are denied access to more than a thousand federal protections and never know if a right guaranteed, granted in one state might be prohibited in another.
From how much, how much in taxes they pay, to hospital visit privileges, to Social Security, to inheritance and child custody rights, failing to recognize the right of these couples to marry prohibits them from full participation in our society.
Those are very important issues, which merit passage of this bill on their own. But beyond the numbers and the tax implications, there is the family issue.
There are thousands of children in Connecticut, right now, being raised by same-sex couples. Denying their parents' equality denies equality for them, as well, which is why I want to take a particular note of one section of this bill that reads, the best interest of a child are promoted when the child is part of a loving, supportive and stable family, whether the family is a nuclear, extended, split, blended, single parent, adopted or foster family. I think that says it all.
On a final note, I am proud to say that my agency was a leader in offering same-sex domestic partner health benefits to state employees nearly seven years ago, and what has, what has been the result? Chaos? Thousands of couples streaming into our office being met by angry protestors? Hardly.
What has happened is that a few hundred workers and their partners have quietly signed up for the plan and are now being, now able to provide their families with a quality health care, health insurance plan. Nothing more, nothing less.
I believe passage of this bill will result in a similar reaction, or non-reaction, as the Boston Globe noted in an editorial earlier this year regarding the enactment of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts.
We are still waiting to hear of the first heterosexual couple whose marriage has been damaged, the editor writes, by the more than 8,500 same-sex marriages performed since 2004. I thank you for inviting me and allowing me to speak on this issue.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony, and, Comptroller, I know that you were testifying on Raised House Bill 7395, and I wanted to ask you, actually a question about a related bill, and if you're not prepared to answer it, that's fine, but, it's Raised Senate Bill 1447, AN ACT CONCERNING FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE FOR MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: I apologize, Senator.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's all right. I'll tell you what it is--
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Okay.
SEN. MCDONALD: --what the issue is. The issue is that, my understanding is that municipal employees do not have the right to, municipal employees who are in civil unions, do not have the same access to family and medical leave benefits as, as couples who are in heterosexual relationships, and I just wanted to know, does your office, at least with respect to state employees, track family and medical leave absences and payments?
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: No, we don't, but we can get that information for you, Senator.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Because I think, at least with respect to how it applies to municipal employees, the state's experience in the area is going to be helpful, at least to me, as we move forward with that legislation. So, I'll work with your staff and try to get that.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: I appreciate that.
SEN. MCDONALD: But I do appreciate your testimony.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: And we will get back to you as soon as possible on that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any questions for the Comptroller? Representative Rowe.
REP. ROWE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Comptroller.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Good afternoon, Representative.
REP. ROWE: Your, your initial statement, I think, tended to boil this down to an issue of civil rights, or at least you spoke to the issue that this is an issue of civil rights and denying civil rights to the few simply shouldn't be allowed to stand.
If we do pass Raised House Bill 7395, and we call it marriage, based upon a civil rights argument, do we not then really have no reason or no basis to prohibit polygamist marriages?
Marriage that, that we may today say, well, that's not really an issue, but we would be denying the civil rights of three or four or five, or pick the number, based upon a civil rights argument?
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: If you have a strong feeling about that, Representative, I'd love to hear the argument on it.
I'm here because I believe that same-sex couples, a one-to-one loving relationship, is very, very important, and the fact that many of our, and I said thousands of children are being brought up by these, by same-sex couples, that those children deserve the feeling of being included into this society, just like my children were brought up.
REP. ROWE: Thank you. I think you may have, my point was, if we are to frame this in a civil rights context, then we lose the ability to deny marriage practically to anyone because of the civil rights issue.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: And I think that could be discussed in this Committee by lawyers. I am not a lawyer. I don't believe that that's the same type of issue by any means.
I think that, that has been outlawed, literally outlawed in many states. This has not been outlawed in our state. It has never been accepted in our state, and hopefully, it will be.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further? Representative O'Neill.
REP. O'NEILL: In your testimony, you quoted from a Boston editorial, and you highlighted something that, I think, comes up in this discussion and, I guess, I'd ask you, do you suppose that when Henry Ford produced the first Model T, he envisioned global warming? In other words, that the impact--
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: I know I'm older, Sir, but I don't remember that, to be honest with you.
REP. O'NEILL: The concept here, though, is that once upon a time, the way we tested to see if a particular chemical or substance could be put on the market was we sprayed somebody with it and if they didn't keel over dead within an hour or so, the assumption was that it was harmless.
We now know that over time, changes that we make to society, to our environment, certainly our physical environment, will gradually become apparent, but they're not instantaneously visible.
So, I guess I'm wondering, do you think that we know enough at this point to know for sure what the impact of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is going to be?
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: With all due respect, Representative O'Neill, when we passed the civil union, those are the same questions. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed in our society.
My marriage hasn't changed any with my husband because there happens to be a civil union going on. My children's marriages haven't changed any because of it. The feeling that if you're worried about everything that might happen in the future, I don't see where this is going to harm anybody.
In fact, I think this makes it a more equitable place for all of us to live. So, no, I don't, I don't see it the same way you do. I don't see it hurting each other, two people, what goes on in somebody's house is none of my business.
And just as long as they're not hurting other people or breaking a law, I believe that they have, that people have the right to do what they want and we should make them all equal.
REP. O'NEILL: So for example, when we passed laws making divorce much easier in the late 1960's, do you think that that had any impact, when we now look at the number of unmarried people, children out of wedlock, that the entire sort of disintegration that we've seen in many parts of society, that none of the legal changes we made had any impact on that?
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Representative O'Neill, if you want to go back to the 60's, I'm not sure that, that we have, in detail, the amount of unwanted pregnancies then. Everything was hidden.
So, when you try to track things now compared to the '60s, it's much different. And, I, you know what, I look at my family. I look at a lot of my friends' families, and I don't think the same-sex marriage is going to change anything.
I don't think that back in the 60's, that I believed that there were same-sex couples back in the 60's, but I don't think that people came out to talk about it. And so it was hidden.
I'm not sure that there are more same-sex couples now than there were back then. It's just now people are talking about it and, thank goodness, they are coming out and living a normal, as much of a normal life.
REP. O'NEILL: Because I think you're really evading my question, I'm sorry to say. Do you think that the changes we make in our laws regarding family have an impact beyond just the immediate?
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: I guess so, yeah. If you look at the Family Leave Act, it made, it was helpful to the family because now people can take off and be with their loved ones or the sick one. So those kind of laws are good.
We make, you know, even, and I say we, because I was there doing the same thing. There are certain laws that we, we put in that are very, very good laws, I think.
If you want to go one by one, and how it affects you and maybe, maybe it's not good, but the fact is, most of the laws that you put in are meant well and have carried out and really helped people. I believed that when I was sitting in there, in the Legislature.
REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further? If not, thank you very much. Representative Hurlburt.
REP. HURLBURT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Madam Comptroller, for coming here today.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Nice to see you, Representative.
REP. HURLBURT: Yes. We usually trade votes during the election season.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Yes, thank you. He's my Representative.
REP. HURLBURT: And thank you for being such a, for being such a strong proponent of this today. I think your testimony was very clear about the reasons why the State of Connecticut should move forward and so I also have to run to testify, but I wanted to thank you publicly--
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Thank you.
REP. HURLBURT: --and I think the reasons that the Comptroller illustrated for us now are the reasons, I think, we'll be hearing over the course of the next many hours, if I'm not mistaken, about the steps that we can take to make Connecticut a great place for everybody to live. So, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Thank you, Representative.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for your testimony.
STATE COMPTROLLER NANCY WYMAN: Thank you very much.
SEN. MCDONALD: I also just want to thank members of the audience. One thing I didn't say is that we don't allow expressions of support or opposition to anybody's testimony.
We are respectful of everybody's opinion, and I thank everybody for showing the respect to the Comptroller for her opinion and we will maintain, hopefully, that decorum throughout this public hearing.
The next person to speak is State Treasurer Denise Napier, and I believe one of the Treasurer's aides is going to testify on behalf of her.
CHRISTINE SHAW: Yes. Good afternoon. For the record, I'm Christine Shaw from the Office of the State Treasurer. Greetings, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Honorable Members of the Judiciary Committee.
Unfortunately, the Treasurer could not be here to personally convey her unqualified support for Raised House Bill 7395, but she asked that I read a brief statement in support.
This General Assembly made great progress in 2005 when it passed legislation creating civil unions. Civil unions now afford much-needed protections for same-sex couples and families, but we know full well that civil unions still fall short of full parity with marriage.
And we have come to understand all too well that separate is not equal. As a civil society, we should not impose artificial barriers or deny the extension of rights or obligations that some in our society enjoy and others are denied merely on the basis of some label.
Now is the time to fully support marriage equality. I urge this Legislature to extend all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples and enact Raised House Bill 7395. Thank you very much.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any questions from Members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for being here.
The next person signed up, I don't see him, is Mayor Eddie Perez. Somebody from the Mayor's Office, I take it.
PEDRO SEGARRA: My name is Pedro Segarra, I'm a member of the Hartford City Council. First of all, good morning, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Judiciary Committee.
I'm here today presenting some testimony that has been previously filed by Mayor Perez. I'm here today to support Raised House Bill 7395, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY.
Raised House Bill 7395 is a very important piece of legislation because it moves toward the very principle upon which this country was founded, and that this country has struggled to enforce that, that all men are created equal.
Raised House Bill 7395 ensures that, it gives legal recognition to civil marriages and those marriages are equal under the law to traditional marriages.
It does this without any effect on the religious ceremonies or traditions of any church, synagogue or mosque. It is a simple piece of legislation dedicated to equal rights.
I respectfully request that the Legislature pass this piece of legislation and, in closing, I would like to read a City Council Resolution which was passed unanimously by the Hartford Court of Common Council of the City of Hartford in support of this legislation.
And it indicates, whereas, legal recognition of civil marriage is currently not available from the State of Connecticut to same-sex couples and same-sex couples are excluded from this right, which is currently reserved only for heterosexual couples, thereby denying equal rights to many residents in a discriminatory manner.
Whereas, the state lawmakers, Senator Andrew McDonald, Representative Michael Lawlor, have introduced civil rights marriage bill that would end discrimination against same-sex couples as currently granted in our state, in our sister State of Massachusetts and other countries, so that all people receive equal rights and benefits and protections that civil marriage provides.
Whereas, state lawmakers intend to deliver protection and social support of the community through the recognition of same-sex marriage. And, whereas, civil marriage equality bill provides rights to same-sex couples in Connecticut and affording equal rights with dignity.
And, whereas, the civil marriage equality bill also offers an important step forward in the social understanding of personal freedom and that civil marriage provided by the state should not discriminate, and as civil marriage is not only founded in love, but that it is a civil right, especially to those subjected to social, economic and legal discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity expression.
Same-sex couples ought to have these rights protected, full legitimacy and protection under the law, and whereas, the civil marriage equality bill will not force churches or religious institutions to either sponsor, advocate, support or officiate the marriages of same-sex couples, therefore, be it known, that the Hartford Court of Common Council supports the passage of the civil marriage equality bill under consideration by the State Legislature. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony. Are there any questions of Mr. Segarra? Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: I just wanted to ask, has your testimony, in writing, been submitted?
PEDRO SEGARRA: Yes, it has. It is part of the record.
SEN. GOMES: It is? We'll get a copy then.
PEDRO SEGARRA: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here today, Mayor. Could you help me be a little more specific.
What rights would civil marriage provide that we haven't already provided under the civil unions act as we currently have it. What specific right?
PEDRO SEGARRA: Specific rights. Back in October of 2004, I believe the first day that the civil union law was, came into effect, I rushed to city hall, me and my partner of ten years, to attempt to have the government recognize our right to exist as a couple.
Usually, that is termed marriage, but in our case, it was not called marriage. We were basically sent to another line to attempt to enforce our rights.
As someone who came to New York in 1965, the product of a Puerto Rican woman who was very white, and a Puerto Rican stepfather who happened to be very black, we ran up to the State of New York, hoping that there discrimination would end.
Forty years later, I find myself in the State of Connecticut, and I find myself being sent to a separate line.
I think the first issue that civil union does not provide that marriage provides is respect. I demand to be respected as an individual. I do everything in this state that the law requires me to do.
I go to church. I pay my taxes. I'm very well loved in my community. I volunteer on different boards. Why can I not have the same rights that other people have, okay? Why can I not have that right?
It doesn't offend anybody else. I'm not asking any church anything. I come from a very religious family. Have two bright nephews that are studying in the seminary. They understand my situation. They understand that of my partner.
And they know, just as the mayor, who was one of the prime sponsors of this resolution, the mayor has his own views on marriage. He and his wife have different views of marriage. Their views of marriage and my views of marriage are different.
Yet, the city council came together because they recognize that this is a civil rights issue, and thank the Lord, and thank all of you being here today, maybe we can have an intelligent, an intelligent conversation about what marriage is, what marriage isn't, what civil marriage is and what civil marriage isn't, because I, for one, want my civil rights and I want my civil rights now.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you for that testimony. I just need to be clear on something. I think the dating you said was, as soon as the bill was passed, you said in 2004? Is that what you said?
PEDRO SEGARRA: Yeah, 2005, I believe, yes.
REP. MORRIS: Would you say that that would still be the situation today, two years later, that somehow you're not being allowed to exist as a couple?
PEDRO SEGARRA: Fortunately for me, being an attorney, even before the civil union bill, I was able to think up of crafty ways of having my rights enforced, as an individual, so we were always very crafty in terms of how to do wills and how to do different documents to sort of protect ourselves.
But I think that not everybody should have to be an attorney to protect themselves that way, and I think that recognition of unions in a marriage situation basically allows the state to recognize those rights without people having to go through detours to attempt to achieve some rights.
But I don't believe that the civil union bill, I'm still considered in a separate category. I'm still not afforded the many protections provided by the federal government in terms of marriage rights.
And I'm still in a separate category that leaves a lot of people suspect as to why I am there. I said to the council that oftentimes, by being in a separate category, it raises the doubt in many of the people's minds as to why I am there, and it just leaves it to too many innuendoes as to why I am in that separate category.
REP. MORRIS: And, I think that you're an attorney, and I think that we did a good thing with trying to give the rights to same-sex couples, those that we could afford under the state, however, I'm hearing you say that there are rights that you can't receive federally.
If we were to change the language, would this give you those federal rights?
PEDRO SEGARRA: It might not, but, you know what, it would make a world of a difference to me, as a resident of this great State of Connecticut, that I am treated no differently and that my own home state is not discriminating against me.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. But it certainly wouldn't give you the federal rights?
PEDRO SEGARRA: Not immediately.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Thank you so much for your testimony.
PEDRO SEGARRA: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further? If not, thank you very much.
PEDRO SEGARRA: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Theresa Younger, followed by Senator Edith Prague.
THERESA YOUNGER: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Theresa Younger and I am the Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the commission to reaffirm the commission's support of extending equal rights, equal legal rights and responsibilities to same-gender partners through civil marriage.
Some may ask why the PCSW is taking a stand in the debate over gender marriage, same-gender marriage. In fact, we at the PCSW regularly consider whether particular issues are women's issues as we assess whether proposed positions fall within the scope of our statutory mandate.
Our determination on that scope depends on the affirmative answers to two or three, to two or more of the following questions.
Does the issue disproportionately affect women? Does, do women seem to care more broadly, more deeply, about an issue than men do?
Or, finally, does the issue involve policies or practices that grant or withhold benefits to individuals based on gender and that are not grounded in, grounded in and reinforce the stereotype notions of gender roles?
What girls and women do or should or shouldn't do, solely based on the virtue of the fact that they are girls and women and/or, boys and men.
In our view, same-gender marriage, and more generally, all issues related to full equality with respect to gays, lesbians and bi-sexual individuals, fall squarely in the third category.
Connecticut's current marriage policy, which would afford access to the rights and responsibilities associated to marriage only for individuals in opposite-gender couples, denies the benefits of many, of many other individuals solely on the basis that the gender of their partners that they wish to marry and is grounded in and reinforces stereotype notions of what the roles of men and women should be, should be and should play in their intimate associations.
As the United States Supreme Court acknowledged in 1965, and declaring unconstitutional the state statute that prohibited inter-racial marriage, the freedom of choice to marry is a fundamental civil right, and a right that has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights central to the order to pursue happiness for all free people.
The PCSW agrees and urges this Committee, and the General Assembly, and the Governor, to extend fundamental civil rights to all residents in Connecticut, regardless of their sexual orientation.
As an initial matter, we should remember that though the institution of marriage does not have a long history, the rules governing civil marriage in our state have never been etched in stone, and thankfully so.
Rather, they have, they have evolved over time in the direction of broader access, greater equality and more respect for the privacy of individual choices essential to liberty.
Under Connecticut law, married women are no longer deemed the property of their husbands, nor deemed the right, nor denied the right to own their own property or bring suits in their own name.
People of all races can marry and men and women can marry across racial lines. Alimony is both for men and women, joint custody of children after divorce is no longer an anomaly. Each of these changes was controversial at the time, but each was required to correct an injustice.
However, if we are to inform, however, even if we form a marriage codified in Connecticut's law, had been in place since the beginning of time, the fact would not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the perpetuation of marriage in its historical form works no constitutional injustice.
The argument is that no persuasion with respect to same-gender marriage, excuse me. That argument is that no persuasion with respect to same-gender marriage than a similar assertion would be made as opposed to the treatment of the laws of women and people of color, who, unlike, who otherwise would cite long traditions as the support for their views.
There are, as here, traditions of injustice that were sorted out as the justices, as the justice in society made decisions around liberty and equality of law.
Like the legal changes that recognize property rights for married women, custody and alimony rights for divorcing fathers and husbands, and the rights of individuals to choose marriage partners across racial lines, the changes you are considering today are necessary to correct an injustice.
Connecticut now, Connecticut law now denies lesbians, gays and bi-sexual people the freedom to participate in one of our most important civil institutions solely based on the gender of their partners for whom they have committed.
Connecticut has always been at the forefront of efforts to eliminate discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. In our adoption statutes, our adoption statutes permit homosexual individuals and same-sex partners of biological parents to adopt.
Our anti-discriminate, our anti-discrimination statutes forbid discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation in housing, employment, education, public accommodation, credit practices, licensing and even golf club membership.
We hope that the Committee, and the Members of this Committee, will change, will look to change the laws and ensure equality for all. We also are in support of Raised Senate Bill 1449, and are also in support of Raised Senate Bill 1447. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. Are there any questions for Ms. Younger? Representative Adinolfi.
REP. ADINOLFI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just a brief question. In your testimony you mentioned bi-sexual couples.
How could we handle that if you had three people living together that were bi-sexual and loved each other equally?
THERESA YOUNGER: We, we're talking, we're not talking about three people. We are talking about two individuals making a decision about where they want their lives to go.
When we talk about bi-sexual couples, we're not talking about three people or six people. We're talking about the intimate decisions of two people to advance their lives together.
REP. ADINOLFI: I didn't interpret it that way. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much for your testimony. If I can understand this, I just want to make sure I'm clear.
What we're really talking about are two issues that are separate, but they're still conjoined. One of them is the issue of what we call this.
And, right now in Connecticut, we have, under Connecticut state law, we have civil unions that give all the same rights and responsibilities of married couples within our state. Correct? So, it's the issue of the name.
But the other issue regarding other rights that are obtainable under marriage that are not obtainable under civil unions in Connecticut, getting back to Representative Morris' question earlier, what other rights would be obtainable if we were to change our Connecticut law from civil union to marriage?
THERESA YOUNGER: Unfortunately, I don't have that fact sheet on me right now, but the people that come up after me can identify what those rights are.
But it should be noted that just because you call a water fountain for whites only and a water fountain for blacks only, doesn't make it equal. And what you call something is important.
And if we are going to call and respect the rights of gay and lesbian couples to be in partnerships together, then we need to do that and we need to call it what it is, and that is marriage.
It's the same marriage that I entered into with my husband. It's the same marriage you entered into with your wife. In regards to the level of love and commitment you want to take forward, why call it something different?
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Like I said, that's a separate issue. We can debate that and there are different points of view. I just want to know, from, you know, because this is going to be a major issue that we're dealing with this session, what rights are we talking about that aren't included under our civil union law, and you testified on behalf of this, so I didn't know if you knew what those rights were?
THERESA YOUNGER: I don't have it on me, I'm sorry.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Okay. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much.
THERESA YOUNGER: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: The final speaker for state agency and public officials is Senator Edith Prague.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Good morning, Senator McDonald, and I don't see Representative Lawlor, but you can say good morning to him from me.
Anyhow, Members of this very distinguished Committee, for the record I'm Edith Prague. I'm the Senator from the 19th District, and I'm here today to go on record in support of Raised House Bill 7395, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY, and Raised Senate Bill 1449, AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOGNITION OF LEGAL UNIONS FROM OTHER STATES AND JURISDICTIONS.
I listened to the excellent testimony from the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Certainly, you have received from that previous testimony all the reasons why it's important for us to recognize these two pieces of legislation and support same-sex marriage.
As all of you know, I am probably the oldest one in this Legislature, and I've lived long enough to know that life goes by very quickly. And in one's lifetime, probably the most important thing is to have someone you love to share your life with.
I want to impress that upon you because without that someone to love and care about, life has an emptiness that nothing else fills. And many of you are married and know what love means, and know how important it is to have someone to share every day with.
So I just want to go on record as supporting these two pieces of legislation. It is the right thing for us to do. And, I urge this Committee to think about how important it is for so many people that you pass this legislation. I thank you for your time.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Senator Prague, and I don't know if you are the longest-serving Member of the Legislature, but your years of experience here are very much appreciated, and I appreciate your testimony.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Thank you, Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: I suspect Senator Cappiello is going to, Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Edith, I was just worried that Andrew was going to say that you were the oldest, and I was getting nervous about that.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: I am.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: No, you're not.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Yes, I am, and, you know, I'm not the longest-serving, I mean, when Doc Gunther left me here all by myself, I said to him, you know, Doc, you're leaving me all alone. I'm going to have to carry on for the two of us.
SEN. MCDONALD: Better leave that one alone, Senator Cappiello. Is there anything further? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I agree with you, Senator Prague, that it is important to have someone you love to share your life with, and life is empty and nothing else fills that.
The question simply is, how would failure to pass this bill prohibit same-sex couples from sharing their life with one another?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: You know, Representative Morris, why should same-sex couples have their relationship be any less important, or less respected, than heterosexual couples?
After all, you're living in this society, you found someone you love to share your life with, why shouldn't you have that same respect as anybody else?
REP. MORRIS: So then, am I to then infer that more so than the initial premise that you gave about being able to share their lives with another, this is more so for you an issue of respect? Would that be it?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: You know, a relationship that is so important to two people needs that recognition whether it's two people of the same sex or two people of the opposite sex. You're part of this society. You shouldn't have to feel any less important. Your marriage shouldn't be any less important. Your relationship shouldn't be any less important.
And each of us, as human beings, is entitled to that kind of a relationship, and I strongly feel that a marriage between two people of the same sex is equally as important as a marriage between two people of the opposite sex. Sharing a life and having love is really an enrichment of our own humanity.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. For the benefit of you, Senator, I thank you so much for your testimony and everyone that's coming behind you, because what I'm trying to really get clarity on here as we go forward, is my understanding that we have, we have, the Legislature provided all of the rights for same-sex couples that a married couple has. Anything that the state can confer upon them, we did that with the existing law. All right.
So when I hear testimony that comes forward, what I'm looking for is to hear something where, is there something that we failed to do, is there some benefit, some civil benefit, a civil benefit that in any way that we have failed to do, that maybe we need to rectify. All right.
Other than that, what I'm hearing is the respect side that relates to a label. And if we're going to talk about the label, what will help me, okay, is understand how there's some better benefit of having the label, whether having this label helps make you a better couple or not.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Well, Representative Morris, I don't think people should, you know, just be tolerated. I think that people deserve that word that's so important to all of us, that's respect.
Their relationship should have that respect. I don't think we should single people out and give them a second-class status.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you very much, Senator Prague. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: You're welcome.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Representative Morris. Anything further for Senator Prague? Representative O'Neill.
REP. O'NEILL: I'll take another stab at the line of questioning I tried on Comptroller Wyman. You mentioned earlier the number of years you've served here and the number of years you've lived on the planet. Do you think, and you brought it up--
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: And I'm very worried about the inconvenient truth of global warming.
REP. O'NEILL: And that's the reason I picked that, that's something that is topical right now and 50 years ago, I don't know that anybody was too concerned about global effect.
Even 30 years ago, from what I read, the big concern was global cooling. The scientists were looking at advancing glaciers or something.
But the point is, that the actions we take have long term, and sometimes unintended consequences. So, I guess, my first question is, would you agree with that?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: I would agree with that.
REP. O'NEILL: And, the point that I was trying to get at with Comptroller Wyman, is that I hear the argument made, well, they passed gay marriage, or same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and the ground didn't open up and swallow Massachusetts, or the sky didn't fall, something to that effect.
But that was about a year, year and a half ago, and that the consequences of a fairly major change in the way people define marriage, it would seem to me, might take a little longer than a year or two to manifest themselves. Would you agree with that?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: I think marriage has been defined since the beginning of Adam and Eve [Gap in testimony. End of Tape 1A, changing to Tape 1B.]
--opinion, and I respect that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Prague, excuse me one second.
Folks, it will be a long day and I do ask that you, I understand that the issues and the emotions on this run deep, but I do ask you to please refrain from expressing opposition or support for anything somebody is testifying about before us. Please continue, Senator Prague.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Representative O'Neill, there are people in this room who will never be convinced that this is the right thing to do, and there are people in this room who firmly believe that this is the right thing to do. And I'm one of those people who believes that this is the right thing to do.
REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Because the thing is, one of the things that concerns me, is that we are doing this, it seems to me, kind of in a hurry.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: I didn't hear you.
REP. O'NEILL: In a hurry. That we had civil unions last year or the year before, and now we're moving in this direction this year.
And Massachusetts did what it did a year or two ago, and that the assumption is being made that the, that there will not be, or probably won't be, or if there are consequences, they're not to be worried about.
And when I look at other things that we as a political organization, either the federal government or the state governments have done, we've done things.
We encouraged suburbanization in the 1940s and '50s, people thought that was a good thing. Everybody was going to have a house in the suburbs, and they'd have a little patch of grass and that seemed to be the ideal that people had.
And yet now we look back and say, well, gee, building all those expressways with all those exits making it easy for people to leave the cities and live in the suburbs, that created sprawl and traffic congestion and air pollution and all kinds of other problems.
And so that every time we do something, we may embark upon, and I see this as a major change. And that's a concern that I have about this, is that we're just assuming we're going to make those people, because it seems to me, listening to what you're saying, you want these people to feel better.
To be respected, to have that sense of good feeling that they get from being able to say that they have a marriage instead of a civil union.
And yet I wonder about what the consequences to the broader society over the longer period of time are going to be, and I don't know that we've thought that through.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Well, Representative O'Neill, you know, I think sprawl and buildings is a completely separate kind of issue than granting human beings the right to marry the person that they love and want to share their life with.
I can't see where either, where that equates, one equates with the other. That's how I feel. I can't change my mind. I feel that every marriage needs to be on the same level.
You know, I remember, not too long ago, when I first moved to the town that I live in. And there was a man down the street who was very anti-Semite.
And he didn't care what kind of a person I was. All he knew was that I was Jewish. And he didn't want me there. And as the years went on, and I became part of the community, he changed his mind.
So sometimes people develop opinions without really having a good reason, and I think that this opposition to allowing two people who love each other to marry is similar to what I went through when I, you know, this man had no reason. I hadn't done anything. Just didn't want me there because I was Jewish.
It's just like two people who marry each other, whether they're two men, or two women, and not doing anything wrong. And to not accept them and respect them is just not the right thing to do.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? I think Senator Gomes was next.
SEN. GOMES: Good morning, Senator Prague.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Good morning, Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: Years ago a black man was considered to be three-fifths of a man, according to law.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: That's right.
SEN. GOMES: And that law was changed, and in 1965, they changed the law on inter-racial marriage that allowed inter-racial marriage. Those two laws were changed, and they talked about whether these laws would have an effect and what people thought about them at that time.
At that time, there were some people that said we were moving too fast, and some people said we shouldn't move at all. Would you equate those two laws with the same change in the law that we are attempting to do today?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Absolutely, Senator.
SEN. GOMES: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and, thank you again, Edith. I'd like to ask you the question that I asked before of the PCSW, and maybe I can better understand.
You and I both supported the civil union bill. Law that was proposed and passed two years ago. And I thought when I was voting for that, that I was voting for equality of same-sex couples and giving all the rights that married couples have within Connecticut.
And putting aside the issue of what it's called, and that's a significant issue and people on both sides, I think, will acknowledge that's a significant issue, even though they have different perspectives on it.
But can you tell me what rights right now, tangible, actual rights are not afforded to same sex couples that are involved, that engage in a civil union, that married couples have and that they don't?
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: You know, Senator Cappiello, I can't tell you that and I heard the, and I can't think of her name, the new woman who replaced, who's now the head of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. I heard her say that she would get back to you with that information. And I'm sure she will.
For me it's a moral issue. It's a human issue. It's an issue of respect for other human beings. The legal issues, I'm sure, are a factor, and you need to know that.
But I don't have that information to give you and I would ask you to think beyond just the legal issues, and look at your lovely wife and think how lucky you are to have somebody in your life that you love and you share your marriage with and your whole life with, and how nice that is.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: And I do, believe me, and if I don't, I'll be in big trouble with you, I know that. But a few things I think we can agree upon, regardless of how this bill ends up.
That using your examples from before, unfortunately, there are some things that we can't control and that's how others will feel, regardless of what the state law is.
How that gentleman felt in your town, even though there were no laws discriminating against you at that time, but he felt the way he did, and we can't change how people feel.
And we also acknowledge, at least in Connecticut, one, we've taken a massive step without any courts telling us what to do.
We've done it on our own by passing civil unions, in that, even assuming that this bill doesn't pass, that there is nothing preventing same-sex couples from enjoying each other's lives and engaging in that love.
Putting aside the issue of changing the name. But we're not going to stop that from happening, and we shouldn't, obviously.
So I'm just trying to get a better understanding and will, hopefully, by not trying to fully separate, but separating the issue of what it's called, and also what the practical realities are and the differences are for Connecticut residents. Because I think they are two very important issues.
Like I said before, they're separate in some ways, so I'm just trying to get a better understanding of that. And I do appreciate your answers, and I think we do agree on many, much, if not all of what you said earlier. So, thank you.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further for Senator Prague? If not, thank you very much, Senator.
SENATOR EDITH PRAGUE: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: We'll move into the public portion of the hearing now, and, again, I would remind everybody that we have three minutes for each speaker. I wish it could be longer, but I would ask that you keep your testimony to three minutes.
The first speaker is Rob Savoski, followed by Maggie Gallagher and then Shirley Pripstein. And just in case folks are coming from the overflow room, I will keep reading a couple of names in advance.
So I don't see Mr. Savoski coming, and if does come from Room 2A, we'll come back to him. Is Maggie Gallagher here? And Ms. Gallagher will be followed by Shirley Pripstein, and then attorney Robert Hirtle. Good afternoon.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Thank you. I hope for some of you, who are very morally, passionately committed to gay marriage, that this isn't the right thing to do.
I can lay out for you some of the things that concern your fellow citizens about this momentous step that you're being asked to do.
I've spent 20 years in a marriage debate, much of it having nothing to do with gay people or gay marriage, but about our high rates of family fragmentation, divorce, unmarried childbearing.
The number of children we have in this society who grow up without the love and care of their fathers, as well as their mothers.
I want to share with you, both the professional, intellectual and the personal reasons why I think gay marriage really is a momentous change to the marriage system. Why it's not the right thing to do.
Let me start with the intellectual bases. The first thing about marriage. What is marriage? That's what you're being asked. Marriage is a virtually universal social institution.
It exists in virtually every known human society, and it always has had something to do with bringing together a man and a woman, into a sexual union, not some other kind of union, where the rights and responsibilities towards each other, and any children that their sexual union makes, are publicly and not merely privately and personally defined.
And I think you have to ask, the question raised by gay marriage, is why? Why in so many different places, completely disconnected different religion, ecology, economic systems, do human beings again and again come up with something that's recognizably this marriage idea?
And I think the answer is that marriage as a universal human idea is rooted in three enduring truths about human beings.
The first is the vast majority of us, for ill or good, are powerfully attracted to a sexual act that creates new life. Sex between men and women makes babies.
The second truth is that society needs babies. For individuals, reproducing is a choice. Managing this phenomena of opposite sex attraction so that men and women come together to make and raise the next generation is not optional for the whole society.
The third truth is that children need a father, as well as mother raising them. And to put this aside our contemporary gender disputes over rules, what I mean is the most basic thing.
When a child is born, there is bound to be a mother somewhere close by. All right. If we want fathers to be involved in raising their children and supporting the mothers of their children, there's a cultural process by which we teach the next generation of men and women that, that fathers have an obligation to children and their mothers. And the word for that is marriage.
I could point you to, and probably other speakers will, to a mountain of social science evidence on family structures that have been well studied, using nationally representative data bases, which do not include same-sex couples, but I really say, it's persuasive to me, as those, that social science research, is the voice of my own son.
I came into this larger marriage debate as a result, a couple of months after I was supposed to graduate from Yale, I had a baby outside of marriage.
And so when I come to this debate about whether or not children need mothers and fathers, I hear as well the voice of my son, who's two years old, telling me, you know, where's my daddy, where's the man, as well as the woman, who will love me?
This is not a social norm to be discarded as bigotry. It's the core of what marriage is, and it's what you're being asked to denounce as if it were a species of racism.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony. Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ms. Gallagher?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm sorry.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm sorry. And, I should have explained. Let me just say. I should have explained that.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yes. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: That for members of the public, we keep it to three minutes, but there is an opportunity for Members to ask follow-up questions.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm delighted to answer any questions.
SEN. MCDONALD: And I thank you for your testimony.
Let me also say that if you do have cell phones, pretty much every cell phone these days has a silent mode, or a vibrate mode, and I would appreciate it if you would take this opportunity to turn yours to silent, or vibrate, so that it doesn't disturb the testimony of people who have waited so long to testify. Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Hi, Ms. Gallagher. How are you?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Good.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks for coming up here today.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Let me just ask you something. What do you think, I mean, we're the Legislature, right? What do you think we should do, in terms of same-sex relationship? Should we give them any acknowledgment at all?
I understand the marriage thing is off the table as far as you're concerned, but what do you think is proper recognition for these relationships?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: You know, as I said, I'm a person who's involved in the marriage debate, so I'm pretty much content. I mean, Connecticut has civil unions. As far as we're concerned, that's, that's done. I don't debate against civil unions. I don't advocate for them.
I think that, you know, if you're concerned about equality of, of civil rights and benefits, I certainly think that you should do them through civil unions, rather than through marriages.
But I guess what's the hard part, is that I'm not an, I mean, I don't think that gay people are sitting around waiting for me to come up with a 10-point legislative plan for them.
This gay marriage thing came on the table, and as somebody who cares a lot about marriage, I felt it was necessary for me to enter this debate. That's what I really care about, so I try to stick to what I know about and what I care about.
REP. LAWLOR: I gotcha. And the thing we're grappling with here today is, I mean, we already have, essentially, we have same-sex marriage in Connecticut, we just call it civil unions.
I mean, as many people pointed out, if you just look at the state laws, the rules are identical, right? And I'm trying to sort of balance that fact against what you're asserting.
You've given a lot of reasons for your opinion, and, of course, we respect those, but why wouldn't all of that also apply to us doing the exact same thing and just calling it civil unions, which we've done. How does that, in your mind, how is that different?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I spend a lot of time talking to people who oppose gay marriage, who make the argument that civil unions are just marriage by another name, and I don't actually agree with that.
I think that it's an attempt to provide a set of civil benefits for couples who don't want to marry, as marriage has been understood, but you want to solve some practical problems for those couples.
So I see that as, you know, it may be a good idea or a bad idea, but it's different from what you're being asked to do with same-sex marriage. There's two big ideas here. Okay.
You're being asked to endorse one of these two ideas, and you hear from those who are advocating for gay marriage, the first idea, really strongly.
That there is no relevant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and it's wrong. Only bigots think otherwise, right? There's nothing about marriage that same-sex couples don't fit.
The other idea, which I would call the marriage idea. Certainly, the classic, cross-cultural historic understanding of marriage, is that there is something special about unions of husbands and wives. That justifies the unique status in law and society. Right?
If you pick that first idea, what is it about the second idea that has to go? The things that really are different about opposite-sex couples that only men and women can come together and create the next generation and attach that child to its own mother and father.
This has to either be unimportant in itself, or not related to marriage in the State of Connecticut anymore. And when we do this, because as every speaker advocating for gay marriage has done so, because the opposite idea is irrational bigotry.
This, this is what really gets me, Representative. If you're going to, that's a really, big important idea. If you're going to launch that idea and legislate it, you have to take responsibility for it.
You know, what will this mean to those of us who see marriage as the union of husband and wife? Well, ask yourself, how do we treat bigots who oppose inter-racial marriage in the State of Connecticut? Right? We don't throw you in jail if you're a bigot. Right? You can exist.
But there's a whole set of constant, legal consequences when this idea of marriage is denounced, or viewed in law as a species of bigotry, and it's everything from professional licenses, school accreditations, ultimately the tax-exempt status of charitable organizations.
Those of you who think that people like me, who think marriage is the union of husband and wife, are like bigots who opposed inter-racial marriage, are saying a really big, launching a really big important idea and it's going to change marriage and it's going to affect large numbers of citizens in the State of Connecticut in my view.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, I tell you what. Let's take the bigotry topic and just put it aside for one second, because I like to focus in on the distinction between civil unions and marriage.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Sure.
REP. LAWLOR: And so, if, because the legal status, right, in terms of--
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: The structure of legal benefits is the same, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: It's identical, right?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yes.
REP. LAWLOR: And so you're saying there's something magic just in the word, not in the statute.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I can explain. What I'm saying is that marriage is not created by the Connecticut Legislature. Marriage, as a legal status, is.
REP. LAWLOR: Right.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: But, you know, marriage is older than the State of Connecticut. Okay. It's older than the U.S. Constitution, as one Supreme Court decision said.
And you know, when you, when you are creating, what the Legislature is proposing to do, you know, is to say that this older understanding of marriage is wrong and discriminatory. Okay.
So yes, I agree with, I agree with advocates for gay marriage that the word marriage matters. Right. Because culture consists of ideas and images and words and pictures, right.
And so for the state, for you here in the Legislature to say the conjugal vision of marriage, our whole marriage tradition, is a species of bigotry and it needs to be changed in the name of equality, is a very powerful new idea to launch and I think it will have powerful consequences.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. Then let's go to the bigotry topic, because I think it's an issue here.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm much less concerned, I just want to say, I'm much less concerned about giving benefits to gay people. I mean, that's not a hill I want to die on.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. Because you know, two years ago we went through a big debate about that, and although it did pass overwhelmingly in the Legislature, there were certainly people who felt very, very strongly that doing this would basically give the official sanction to same-sex relationships. And that's kind of what their argument was. And, so--
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yes. What's the difference?
REP. LAWLOR: On the topic of bigotry, you know, I haven't talked to every advocate for same-sex marriage, but I certainly talked to a lot of them.
And when the bigotry topic comes up, I don't think it's, that they're talking about a bigotry that is based upon denying people the right to marry. I think it's a bigotry that's about their views on homosexuality.
Now, it sounds like you don't share that view, but, although I'm not sure. But you know, there are many people who believe that homosexuality itself is, not just immoral, but intrinsically disordered and, intrinsically evil and objectively disordered. Right?
And so I think people, when they talk about bigotry in this discussion, are talking about that point of view.
Not, whether or not, because there's certainly people who voted for same-sex, for the civil union thing, but aren't comfortable with same-sex marriage, and those people express their views in the debate two years ago, and they were very clear.
I remember one State Senator said that in helping to make up his mind, he tried to get a sense of is this a choice, or are you born that way? And he said he came around to feeling that you're born that way.
And so, if you really are born that way, in his view, as he stated it in the debate, why should you not have equal rights.
And so I think, but my guess is, that same State Senator probably doesn't support same-sex marriage, but he could support civil unions.
But when people talk about the bigotry, I think they're talking about people's views on homosexuality, not on whether or not gays should be married, but just whether it should be officially sanctioned. So what do you think about that?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Well I'll just say that, I, today, in this chamber, I heard very strong arguments that people who oppose gay marriage are like anti-Semites, like people who oppose inter-racial marriage, like people who oppose equal rights for women.
I don't hear, I mean, I think that the core case for calling it marriage equality is, in fact, an argument about marriage.
Now there's an overlapping argument about homosexuality, and you know, I would have, I would have to say that our culture wars on that issue would be a lot less if we weren't being driven by the race analogy in conferring rights on gay and lesbian citizens.
But that's like whole another can of worms, which, I'm, my opinion is not worth more than any other person.
But, but, the argument that is being made before the Connecticut Supreme Court and before the Legislature here today, is an argument that anyone who sees anything distinctive about unions of husbands and wives is either irrational or based in malice towards gay people. That's the argument on the table. So I take that very seriously.
I've learned in 25 years of public life that when you frame a public issue and you get the government and the law to endorse one side in this moral dispute, that the government has a lot of power.
So, I mean, the most important thing to me here is to say, it's not a slippery slope, it's not even a consequence, as important as they are. It's an argument about justice.
I don't believe marriage is discriminatory. I believe it has its own unique dignity and purpose rooted in real and enduring human realities.
It's not discrimination anymore than Social Security is age discrimination, and that's the debate that I think it's important for our society and for marriage to win.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, so we could, help us understand your views, then.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yeah.
REP. LAWLOR: Do you think homosexuality is immoral?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I am a Roman Catholic, and I don't know. I don't think homosexuality is immoral, but if you ask if my best friend came up to me and said, do you think you should engage in gay sex, I would say no. But if I'm not asked, I don't usually bring it up.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. But you'd say no because, presumably, you're not gay. Right?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I don't know. I don't know what I would say if I were gay. That would be a different person.
REP. LAWLOR: Right.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I could say, by the way, I know gay people who think gay sex is wrong. It's not impossible. It's not common. But it is possible.
REP. LAWLOR: I know straight people who think straight sex is wrong.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yeah. I know. I know. I feel a lot of straight sex is wrong, but nobody seems to listen to me, so, you know. I try to focus on not my personal views on sexual morality, but on the public purpose of marriage as a social institution.
REP. LAWLOR: I understand that. But you see, we're being asked to start thinking about this fundamental question. Our law says these relations, that we will treat these relationships identical.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: But there's something different about unions of husband and wife. That's what the law says.
REP. LAWLOR: It says two things. It says we'll treat them identically, but we will call it something else.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: That's right.
REP. LAWLOR: That's what the law says in Connecticut.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Right. Because there's something different about unions of husbands and wives.
REP. LAWLOR: Right. And so we're trying to figure out what the difference is if the law says they're identical and the names are different, what's the difference?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: The difference is that people, because gay people are not, would find it hard to marry, as we understand it, this is how I understand it.
The Legislature decided to offer a benefit structure to help these people because they're not likely to be in opposite-sex marriages, and there's a small population group. It's hard for them to marry.
So I don't believe you can buy the right to discriminate. So I don't think you can, with civil unions, buy the right if marriage is discriminatory.
But if you believe, as I do, that marriage is not discriminatory, you might also believe that just as we do things for single mothers, and we do things for people in other family forms, I mean, we might want to do things for our gay and lesbian fellow citizens.
It's not, to me, there's no inherent contradiction between, and I know that the plaintiffs right now are in court arguing that because you passed civil unions, that our marriage laws are an irrational violation protection of equal protection. But I don't believe that.
I don't believe that that's what you did in passing a civil union law, and I think it would be very bad for the country for people to feel that if you pass a civil union law, it means, inevitably, that there's nothing, you know, there's no reason for keeping marriage as a distinct status.
REP. LAWLOR: And the last question I want to ask you, in your opening statement, and I tried to jot down essentially what you said, but it sounded like what you said, that doing this would undermine the statement that, you said marriage, that gay marriage or gay relations or whatever, is not an option for the whole society. Something like that.
Did you mean to say that our official capacity, our official position should be that that should not be an option, gay relationships?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: No. What I think that I said, pretty clearly, is that marriage is rooted in the idea that we need to get men and women together to make and raise the next generation of children, because children need a father, as well as a mother.
And that's what gay marriage does, it redefines this whole set of social norms as a form of bigotry, akin to racial, akin to those who opposed inter-racial marriage. And that, so what I'm focused on is not actually anything about gay people and their relationships.
I'm focused on defining the historic cross-cultural special mission of marriage not as a form of bigotry, which is what I think that the, you know, I just think if you're going to make this argument over and over again, that you ought to own up to the responsibility, and not you, personally, when people do, for what a big, new idea this is and what kinds of consequences this is going to have for at least those of us who remain committed to this older conjugal vision of marriage as the union of husband and wife.
You can't say it's like racism, and then say, well, why can you be opposed? It's not going to affect anyone, but a couple of nice gay couples who want some respect.
REP. LAWLOR: So now I think I understand you said with that, so I guess, what I want to ask you then, just to clarify, you know, because we get to set public policy in the General Assembly with the concurrence of the Governor. That's our job.
And so, are you saying that we should have a public policy that encourages gay people to get into marriages with opposite sex persons?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: No. I'm not saying, I didn't say anything like that, and I guess I'm confused. I'm saying that marriage is about this thing.
Now there are always going to be people who don't marry, who don't want to marry, who aren't suited to marry, and you may want to do other things for them and their family forms.
But if we move to gay marriage as a civil right, we will be saying that there is no social institution based on the idea that we need to get men and women together to make and raise their children together, and that this idea is, itself, a form of discrimination against gay people.
REP. LAWLOR: But see, that's--
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm not, I haven't said anything about gay people. I've only said that this is an important social norm for the vast bulk of the majority.
REP. LAWLOR: I got you. But I don't understand. You're arguing this social norm is designed to get people together. Right? To form marriages and have children. Right?
And it's understandable why that would be an important public policy. But does that mean to say that it's meant to encourage gay people to do that, because you're either gay or you're straight, and--
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: No. It isn't. It isn't meant to do that at all. We have a failure here to communicate. Let me pause for a minute and see where, if I can locate it, so we can achieve disagreement. It's hard. It's hard. It's a lot of work to achieve disagreement and I take it seriously.
The, the portion of the gay marriage argument, I guess part of the difference between, I gather, you and I, although I'm not trying to speak for you, is that, at least some people think that with gay marriage, you're simply going to be adding a few more people into the existing marriage system and nothing else will change.
At the same time, these people are making the argument that there is no relevant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples that explains why you would want anyone to care about whether we kept the meaning of the word marriage.
The word husband, right now, means a man in a certain kind of relationship with a woman. Right? You're proposing to use the law to change that reality.
If you do, changing it in the law won't matter, unless you use the law to change the culture, which is what's going to happen.
I mean, public schools will be teaching this new official vision of marriage. And they will be teaching it as a great civil rights triumph over this older, bigoted idea of marriage. Right?
And the law, I mean, you, you adopt this position in the law and the law has a lot of power for changing the way people think about marriage.
And I guess the way to say it is, that I'm not trying to get gay people to do anything or not do anything. Right. It's really not been my focus.
I do think that describing this special mission of marriage as a form of discrimination, rooted in the idea that there's an, there's an inequality argument here.
That, you know, treating different things differently is not a violation of equal protection. It's not discrimination.
So where do we go? If we have to say these two things are exactly the same and anyone who thinks otherwise is motivated by hatred. Right? Bigotry, animus, irrationality.
These are, this is a big, new idea you're launching about marriage. That's all. That's the point I really to call attention to.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, okay. Thanks.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Let me ask you, just as a follow-up to that. I mean, you understand from your work, I take it, that there is a distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage.
Do your arguments differentiate about the status of marriage based on civil marriage or religious marriage?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I think directly, in the sense that what I have tried to do in my, here today and in other places, is point to what I call the public purposes of marriage. You know, people marry privately for a hundred different reasons. People have their own reasons for getting married.
But the question you have to ask is, why did the law get involved, you know, endorsing this kind of relationship? And I think the historical answer is really what I've given you.
That there is, you know, we don't, we didn't develop our marriage tradition because we think adults and their rights, or adults and their loves, are the fit subject for legal regulation. That wasn't the core motivation.
It emerges again and again, not only here, but in all sorts of different religious cultures, because there is a real need. There is a need for this social institution.
And I understand there are people who think that marriage can just go along unchanged once you've added gay couples to the mix. And I, that's a point of disagreement.
But if I'm right about this, it is precisely the public purposes of marriage that are most at risk. Not its private and personal uses.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. But, I mean, if there was a faith tradition that wanted to marry two people within their faith tradition, separate and apart from the civil contract of marriage, would you be opposed to that?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: No. I think that that's a religious liberty issue.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So, so, I just want to be clear.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I mean, I might be opposed to it personally, but I don't think the law should be opposed to it.
SEN. MCDONALD: Fair enough. So, so, within this civil construct, or within the civil law, you've sort of outlined the elements of marriage predominately to be procreation right?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: The reason you privilege, as bonds of husband and wife, has to do with the unique, you know, procreative potential of male-female sexual relationships, yeah. Both for good and for ill. And it's both.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Now how do you square that with people who are getting married later in life?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Well, every, let me put it this way. Every man and woman who marries, every union of husband and wife, serves in a minimal way, the public purposes of marriage because, first of all, any children they have or adopt could have a mother and father. So none of them are contradicting it.
And none of them who live up to their vows, no matter what their age, are going to be contributing to the problem of producing fatherless children across multiple households.
So in the, the privileging of long-term sexual bonds between husband and wife serves this purpose, even if some individual couple doesn't happen to have children, which is, by the way, always been the case.
I mean, through all the hundreds of years that courts and elites had no problem recognizing that marriage had something to do with the fact that men and women in sexual unions make babies.
Always been the case that there have been older couples who marry, and infertile couples who marry, and those marriages are also marriages.
But they don't, you know, when you're moving to do same-sex unions as marriages, you're doing something really new. Okay?
And if you're doing it on civil rights grounds, on the fact that it's discrimination to do anything else, that's a really powerful new argument, breach, a disconnect between marriage and its older purposes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. But I mean, if I had, I have two constituents who are in a same-sex relationship and have been in that relationship for 48 years.
So I suspect, even if they were heterosexual, they're probably past the age of procreation for most purposes. And if you had a similar couple who are heterosexual, also together without the benefit of marriage for 48 years, we've, I assume, removed the procreation element from the equation.
But if I understand your testimony correctly, the heterosexual couple would be still benefit from the civil institution of marriage, or could, and the homosexual couple would be ineligible. Is that correct?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Any union of husband and wife would still reinforce the norm, that marriage is about the phenomena of opposite-sex sexual attraction and its potential consequences.
In a way that having the law legislate a new marriage morality that says same-sex unions must be recognized as marriages in this state, represents a dramatic new change.
That's, that's the point I want to rest on here. It's a big change and it fundamentally changes the understanding of marriage in law and culture.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Well, I appreciate your testimony, and it's taken long for us to achieve disagreement. So, thank you very much. Senator Kissel.
SEN. KISSEL: Thank you very much, Chairman McDonald. First off, I'd like to thank you for coming to testify. I find your testimony refreshing.
And I appreciate your desire to shift the argument, because I'd like to see the argument shifted, as well. And I'd like to see it shifted in this way.
First of all, I think, let me just count through some of the things I think that you stated that were important, just to recapitulate with you.
You said that we are really made up of ideas and words and pictures and all of that sort of defines us as a society. It's almost going back to Plato and Socrates.
And if I said the word chair, I think everybody in this room would have in their mind a concept of what a chair is, although probably everybody's imaginary chair would be different. But it also means that we all have a common notion of what that means.
And so there are certain things that have traveled down through time that we all sort of have a, a common knowledge as to what they are. The idea. And by going in that direction, you indicated that marriage, as a concept, and as a word, is important to our society.
And I find that argument important, but it also cuts sort of both ways. Because in the one sense, the historical concept of marriage as the communion of a man and wife, a woman and a man, towards the laudable goal of procreation, because, if we don't have that, we run out of people, that's something to be held up as quintessentially important for the creation and the promulgation of mankind. We don't do that anymore, down we go.
And in fact, there's this giant debate going on out there, developing countries, developing the population much, at a greater rate. Europe and North America, sort of dying out. Europe in particular. Their population is dying out and maybe their, their position in the world civilization is that way, as well.
The part of your argument that I think is real important, and I think that the folks advocating for marriage between same-sex couples, really undermines their argument, is sort of that being put upon.
Yeah, there's an isolated handful of folks out there that are, that are bigoted, but I've got to be honest. Few and far between do I run into those folks, and people can be bigoted about a variety of issues.
I really wish we could set that aside and get to the notion that most of the constituents that I've spoken to, that are, let's say hesitant, if not outwardly antipathetic to the notion of giving the title marriage to those folks who may legally enter into civil unions now, has nothing to do with being anti-same-sex people.
It has to do with what you brought up here, was their sort of historical 6,000 plus year notion that marriage serves a higher purpose.
And I think it's interesting to note that in almost all other areas of our society, progressivity is defined as embracing diversity, and yet, when it comes to the fundamental diverseness of a man and a woman, that that can be somehow conveniently set aside as inconvenient for the whole notion that, well, when it comes to the definition of a marriage, you don't need that diversity and that a woman and woman, or a man and man, will suit us just fine, thank you, move along.
And so I agree with you, and I think that to allow proponents to sort of rise up the specter of anti-Semitism, racism and other things, sort of misses the point on this one.
Because it would be inordinately difficult to construct an argument in favor of those bad behaviors, let's call them for what they are, bad behaviors.
Yet elevating the notion of what a marriage is, that it allows for and fosters procreation. Not in all instances.
But again, what the law typically minds itself with, is what is the ideal. What do we aspire to? What do we want to help promote?
And I thought that you really brought a lot of focus to that. The problem that I have, and without a doubt I know where my district is on this.
The vast majority are going to urge me to say no. But this debate has been going on now for a number of years. And I sort of knew that we would be here today, many years ago.
And there's a part of this argument that the horse is almost out of, maybe out of the barn already. Once we, once we decided, as a state, that same-sex couples could, by order of a probate court adopt a child, because there's so many children that were going without homes, we basically said in certain instances, same-sex couples can be just as good of parents as heterosexual couples.
And to be very honest, in many of the instances of testimony brought before us, there's been folks that have said that without a doubt.
So that notion of what marriage is, that it's the promotion of this kind of wonderful family unit, we took that step many years ago and there really hasn't come to pass any negative information regarding where we went regarding that.
That's not to say that the ideal is not still a man and a woman, and that is not to say that if it were not for the conjugation of a man and woman coming together to create life, that there wouldn't be these children to adopt.
But we're not living in that ideal society. We have children that need adoption and so these folks came along, and so we opened up that course of action.
And then one thing, we passed a law that extended many, if not all of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. Because a lot of the testimony was, well, you know, what if there's an emergency. I can't get into a hospital, da, da, da, da, da, ta.
And so it was this creeping kind of progression to where we are today. And so the difficulty that I have is that civil unions and marriage, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
And you have indicated that the term marriage has importance, and that's what the proponents of marriage want, as well, because it does have importance.
I would agree with the folks that have made it very clear that by passing this law no substantive rights or responsibilities will change. But the feeling of pride and dignity and worth and being associated with the term marriage will be there.
And so the debate, as I see it, is very clearly framed as to whether the very last step shall be taken. By the way, I don't necessarily think it's the very last step.
I think once marriage is adopted in this state, if indeed that is what's going to come to pass. I think there's a critical mass of a certain number of states that folks will trot into federal court and challenge the federal laws regarding this, and I think a lot of this effort.
So I think we're part of a process, but I don't think this is necessarily the end of the show in the United States of America. So what does that leave us with?
If I am to agree with you that marriage between a man and woman is important enough to keep separate and distinct from folks that have entered into a civil union because we, as a state, view the ideal relationship in our state, that being the most diverse relationship in our state, a man and a woman, my simple question is, how do you respond to the fact that we have allowed, by law, same-sex couples, by order of a probate court, to adopt children and to raise them as their own, and that we really don't have any evidence thus far indicating that those folks cannot create a warm, loving and supportive environment for children. Thank you.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: It's a good question. I have to pause though and say, just as an American, and one of the things I share with gay rights activists, although they may not acknowledge this, is this very American sense, that nothing is inevitable, but death or taxes.
When I first stepped into the family structure debate--
SEN. KISSEL: We covered a lot of those things, too.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I was told that there's, the big argument was, there's nothing you can do about it. It's just a line on a graph. Lie back and think of something else. Right.
So I think that you're making a choice. And it's not an inevitable choice. And that those with the privilege of making the choice have the responsibility of it.
I see adoption and marriage as being rather separate issues. I've, I mean, many people share your concerns, but I have always seen them as separate issues for this reason.
Adoption is not about the preferred ideal for children, because we really don't prefer that natural parents are either unable or unwilling to care for their children. Right?
Adoption is a wonderful thing. It's a happy ending to something that is either a tragedy or a terrible thing. Either the parents can't, which is a tragedy, or they won't, which is a terrible thing to do to a child. So adoption is what we do for the most broken of families.
For a child who has not even one of his natural parents, able or willing to care for him. And in those circumstances, the obligation of the state is not to promote some general ideal, but to do the best [Gap in Testimony. Changing from Tape 1B to Tape 2A.]
--and we're grateful for any family, for single mothers, for same-sex couples, for opposite-sex couples, anyone who can come forward to care for that child.
So the argument that was made at the time, which I remember quite distinctly hearing, was not that we're going to embrace gay adoption because we no longer care whether the children have mothers and fathers, but that we're going to be grateful to any person, straight or gay, who comes forward to care for a child who has no home, and that we're not going to prefer that children be put in orphanages or have no family. Right?
So endorsing that as an idea does not require us to surrender the idea that there is something significant and important about, you know, what this combination of generativity and family structure, of making children and connecting the mother and father to their own, which is, there are other missions in life.
There are other institutions. Marriage is not the only institution. We help children in a variety of family forms, but this is the special status, the unique mission of marriage, that I don't believe this Legislature should repudiate.
SEN. KISSEL: I really appreciate that. And I do believe that the vast majority of my constituents are in agreement with you, and I think that you raised a very good analogy by saying, you know, we hold up Social Security, grant Social Security.
It helps those folks that are disabled or have special needs, but the vast majority of folks collecting on Social Security are older citizens.
And by doing that, that does not necessarily quid pro quo mean that Social Security is bigoted or undermining young people or middle-aged people.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Because it has a legitimate purpose related to age. That's the point.
SEN. KISSEL: And your point is, is that traditional marriage, if we can use the term traditional, even though we don't want to use certain buzz words, but marriage as we heretofore have understood it, has a special role in our society and before we hand over that term to something else, and by the way, I understand the arguments regarding more than two.
I mean, that argument also, is sort of like dismissed offhand, and I guess in New England you can do that, but there's other states where I've heard that once, you know, this whole kind of, once you do away with some of the framework, you almost are opening it up so that creative people can do away with other parts of the framework.
I don't necessarily believe that that's a pressing issue right now, but it sort of begs the underlying question. So I think that you raise a very, very valid point, and I will conclude by saying this.
Your notion that folks, and by the way, I love everybody in this room. I have no inherent dislike of anybody regarding any way they want to live their life.
That is completely fine with me, and I think that's the way most of my constituents feel. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you get to the same conclusion regarding this particular issue.
As indeed, with many issues in this building, we all respect one another and where we're coming from in our constituencies, but we may not agree with the ultimate solution to an given problem on any given day.
And so I appreciate you bringing that notion to this discussion and, hopefully, we can learn more about sort of fine-tuning how we want to approach this issue, so that everybody's viewpoints are fully respected and that we're not, sort of conjuring up other analogies from things that I think really sound good, but may not necessarily apply and I think undermine the overall arguments, which we have before us.
And it's a very difficult and complicated issue, and in some senses, straightforward and simple. And I just wanted to thank you for bringing that to this discussion. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. And for members of the public, especially for those who are in Room 2A, the overflow room, I just wanted to let you know that the Capitol Police are in the process of trying to reserve yet another room for the overflow from the overflow.
So I do appreciate everybody's patience and I would remind Members of the Committee, that we, obviously, have a lot of people to testify, but I believe the next question for Ms. Gallagher is from Senator Gomes, then Representative Dillon.
SEN. GOMES: How are you doing, Ms. Gallagher.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Hi.
SEN. GOMES: I heard you mention a number of things and I'd just like to respond to some of them. When you mention that marriage is older than the Constitution and there were a lot of things that were older than the Constitution, that's why we fought the Revolutionary War. And we changed a heck of a lot of them.
When you talked about discrimination and bigotry not being related to this sort of thing, when you talk about, well, Senator Prague, because she talked about being Jewish, and I spoke of a couple of things about being Black, and then you have gay people who have been discriminated, and the mutual thing we had, in all of this, is the pain of discrimination.
When you use the K word or Jewish people, when you use the N word for Black people, and they also had a F word that they used for male homosexuals. One of the things that we talked about here, they talked about sanctioning something between two people.
I don't see that we have the right to sanction anything between two people, whether they be, have a relationship, or be heterosexual or homosexual or whatever. I think the only sanction that needs to be is between those two people themselves.
Otherwise than that, I feel like what we're trying to do here is remedy something that is, has been the fault of a lot of things that have happened in the past.
Well, you say, well, I heard other people mention, are we venturing into something new? Will this have ramifications in the future?
Almost every law of any significance in the United States that was made had some ramifications and some changes made in the future.
And I just wanted to make those comments about some of the things that I heard that you made. And when we talk about two, a man and woman being married and family and so on and so forth, nowadays, 56% of all marriages end in divorce now. By the way, I contributed two of them, myself.
But I also, in those two marriages, I had two sets of children that I raised that are as close to me as mine are today.
So I don't see the difference in a gay couple raising children, as opposed to a heterosexual couple raising children. If you're going to raise children, it's all a matter of beliefs and thoughts that you teach them, rather than who you are. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, it was more of a statement, but if there's anything you would like to respond, Ms. Gallagher.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yes. I would like to say, I think. No. I'm sorry. If that's okay. I think that's a pretty clear statement of the differences between us, and I do understand that it's, there are passionately held moral beliefs on both sides.
The point I wanted to make is that when you equate marriage as the union of husband and wife to things like anti-Semitism and racism and bigotry, you can't also say, well, this is just a minor change. It's not going to affect anyone but a couple of, you know, our nice gay neighbors.
You're talking about putting a big new thought into the law, which includes the thought that this older vision of marriage and its purposes, is a form of discrimination, like opposition to inter-racial marriages.
So I just, all I want to say, I understand we disagree about that, and I've already done my best to explain why I don't think it's discriminatory, and for you, I failed.
But there still remains the reality that you are not doing a small thing. You are doing a big thing that's going to change the marriage culture.
It's not going to affect just gay couples. It's going to affect everyone. It's going to be the new vision of marriage for everyone in the State of Connecticut.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Representative Dillon. I'm sorry. Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: I never, I never viewed it as a minor change or something small. I know that it's something major.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Okay. Good.
SEN. GOMES: This is as major as anything else. This is major as changing the 1965 act of inter-racial couples being married.
It's about as, almost as large as changing the law not equating a Black man of being three-fifths of a man. But these are major changes and somewhere in the future, there might be other changes to it. But I think it's a change worth making right now. Thank you.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Then we've achieved a certain amount of disagreement. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Dillon.
REP. DILLON: Thank you very much. And thank you very much for coming here today. I think it's important, and I know you graduated, I believe, from a university in the town I represent.
But I didn't hear the, your opening remarks, and we've been talking about overflow crowds, but we don't have enough seats for all the Legislators who belong to the Committee.
So I was looking for your written remarks, and I, we don't have any. Is that true?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: No. I did. I e-mailed them to Brian Brown last night, so you should have them shortly.
REP. DILLON: I will get them?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Yes. It's already posted on-line and we will get you another packet of written testimony.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I can hand you mine, if you want, with my notes.
REP. DILLON: I don't know if I can speak and speed read at the same time, and I don't want to be rude to everybody else, but what I think is important about some of the things you've said is simply that, if we can have a conversation that's, that's logical, and try to understand what the terms of debate are. I think that will be helpful to everyone.
And we may disagree, you and I, but we come from the same faith tradition, I believe. And, or if they haven't thrown me out yet, is all I can say about that. Right. But I'm on thin ice.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm sure we'll talk about it in Purgatory together.
REP. DILLON: That's very, there you go. So if I understand the conversation between you and the Senate Chair and the House Chair. It sounds like you're hanging your hat on tradition. Fine. I just want to make sure I understand.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm listening.
REP. DILLON: The uniqueness of the procreation function and on some comments, societal stability, and the uniqueness of marriage. Is that accurate or, if you could tick off three grounds for your opposition to the bill that we're hearing.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: The main argument I want to make is that marriage is not discriminatory because it's rooted, not only here, but in virtually every human society, in three enduring truths about human beings, that are the marriage idea.
One is that sex makes babies. The second is society needs babies. The third is that babies need a father as well as a mother. This is the heart of marriage as a cross-cultural idea in different religious traditions.
And that endorsing same-sex unions as marriage on equality grounds, as, as a civil rights argument, involves rejecting, the government will now reject these as our, part of our core understandings of marriage and will, instead, endorse a new idea, which is that there is no relevant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bigot. I think that, those are the issues.
There is something unique about unions of husbands and wives. There is no difference and anyone who thinks otherwise is the, like a bigot. Those are the two ideas you're being asked to choose between.
So I've laid out some of the things that I think really are unique about unions of husbands and wives, and the public purposes that are involved in the state regulation of marriage.
REP. DILLON: Well I think that may be a strong woman, that argument. I think there, I mean, I certainly don't think in terms of people being bigoted. It wouldn't get me very far because a lot of them are related to me. And I break bread with them.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Some of your best friends are bigots?
REP. DILLON: That's right. Some of my best friends and my family, we disagree about a lot of social issues and we try to have respectful conversations. It doesn't always work.
And so, I guess, my concern about what you're saying, and I'm trying to think of what grounds, and you should know about me, that when we debated civil unions, I supported it not on grounds of the rights argument, because I never know how to resolve that, when you have competing rights, but on the grounds of community. And so sort of a communitarian argument.
And I have conservative friends who have argued, who are much more conservative, maybe than you are, if nothing else, belong to a different party than the one that I belong to, who have argued that, that same-sex marriage is a conservative thing to do because it creates order in the disordered area of the law, and it leads to societal stability. And they don't use necessarily a rights argument.
And so it's, I'm sorting all this through, and it's very interesting, but I just really want to raise the issue of the extent to which these institutions are societal artifacts that change.
And with all due respect to the Legislature, I think television probably has more power sometimes than we do, when it comes to public opinion. If I can venture an opinion about that, or at least listening to my son, it does.
And so, but, if you look at my grandparents' grandparents came here as the result of a famine, and they were considered members of an inferior race, who reportedly didn't speak English and worshiped, you know, the Pope, or whatever, and there were, you know, fire torches in Savannah, you know, when all the Irish landed.
There was a debate about slavery. And about whether or not, you know, the Irish, the whole concept of race, you could argue, has a whole history of being a societal construct or not.
And I think you could also argue, or one could argue, that marriage has also always, if you look at all the disputes between Henry the 8th and the Vatican, that marriage also served the function of the transmission of property and not necessarily this issue of romantic love or even procreation.
So I guess I just want to respond to your arguments, because I think some of your arguments are defensive in the sense that it sort of, you want to have the freedom to be able to make your claim without being accused of anything, you know, any, any bad intent.
And I'm just going to take that off the table, because I think everyone is trying to sort this through.
And, and generally speaking, I don't think the law should get too far ahead of the people, and the people are still thinking this through.
And so, I think your remarks generally have been salutatory, I do. But could you respond to my concern that many of these things, whether it's marriage, or the notion of race, or whatever, are social constructs that change.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I want to respond, first of all, I just want to say I've been in public life for 25 years. I'm a nationally syndicated columnist. I'm not worried about people being mean to me, and no one has been mean to me. That's not the issue.
What I've tried to do is lay down what I think is the core arguments that are being made. That are being made here. And to ask people to take responsibility for that means. And I think some people do and some people don't. I also think people have different reasons.
So this may not be your reason for thinking about endorsing gay marriage. But the people here wearing marriage equality stickers, marriage didn't just get on the table accidentally.
It got on because people have a very passionate moral commitment to a very powerful moral narrative of equality and non-discrimination.
And I do believe that is the main argument on the table, and that it has consequences, not only about gay people, but also about marriage. And that's what I've tried to highlight. And, the, and I've just, give me one second. I'm sorry, I just blanked on your actual question.
SEN. MCDONALD: Why don't we--
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'll just do it really brief, if you want to, because I don't--
REP. DILLON: I asked about--
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Dillon.
REP. DILLON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I asked about these institutions as social artifacts, number one, and I also mentioned the conservative argument and that would be creating order to a disordered area of law, that would actually permit for some stability when it comes to things like adoption and so forth.
So there's a conservative argument and also the other argument, which is that some of these perceptions change.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm not arguing about it. I'm not arguing that marriage, because we've always done it this way, it can't be changed. I personally think that's an un-American idea.
I am arguing that marriage's persistent emergence in a variety of different cultures is pointing to the underlying reasons why you need a social institution with these purposes, and you'll see, I don't want, the people who heard my testimony, I don't want to be too repetitive about that.
I, I've debated Jonathan Rousch, who I think is the architect of the idea that marriage, gay marriage will be good for marriage, over and over again, and, you know, the closest I've come to someone who's willing, to both advocate for gay marriage and endorse, as a norm, the idea that children need a mother and father as a social norm.
I've found very few advocates of gay marriage who really are willing to tolerate that, as an idea that that's going to be an important thing in public policy or in society because they're, you know, there is a choice to be made about these things.
And, I guess, we would disagree then about whether, what it means to endorse gay marriage, and somebody do. I've laid out my reasons.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. And you know, I really appreciate your testimony today. Although I do note that we've impinged on your time by at least an hour.
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: I'm so sorry.
SEN. MCDONALD: So I am going to cut off the questioning, and I apologize to any Members of the Committee. If you might stick around, if somebody wants to have this discourse with you outside, I'd be happy to have them do that.
Please, folks, remember that we have 75 people to go. So I think it's a very important that everybody have a right, an equal right to have their testimony heard by the Members of the Committee.
And if you are going to, if you are in Room 2A, the additional overflow room is in 2B, and we are going to move forward. Rob Savoski, followed by Shirley Pripstein.
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: Good afternoon, Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald. I'm Rob Savoski. I'm President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I'm here to voice the Academy's support of Raised House Bill 7395.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being of all children, infants, adolescents and young adults.
In February, 2002, the Academy released a policy statement entitled co-parent, or second parent adoption by same-sex parents.
After a review of the available peer-reviewed research concerning the medical and psycho-social affects of growing up in a family with the parents of same sex, the Committee found that, and I quote, children who are born to, or are adopted by one parent of a same-sex couple, deserve the security of two legally recognized parents.
Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics supports legislative and legal efforts to provide the possibility of adoption by the child by the second parent or co-parent of these families.
They further outline several issues where bullets need to be included in that legislation. This created some controversy, so a second review of the scientifically controlled research into the long-term effect of children, of parents' alternative living arrangements was conducted in 2006.
And this research again showed that there were no negative effects that had been proven on children specifically due to growing up with same-sex parents.
What is known, and what has been demonstrated repeatedly, is that children who grow up in an environment where they feel loved, safe, wanted and are nurtured, grow up to be far more stable and successful adults than their peers, who grow up without such benefits, regardless of the sexual or other orientation of their parents.
Unfortunately, many of the important needs of children of same-sex parents remain unmet, specifically access to health insurance coverage and other benefits provided by states and by employers only to married employees, among other social benefits.
Raised House Bill 7395, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY addresses these deficiencies. It is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that legislation be enacted that, quote, assures legal status equivalent to marriage for gay and lesbian partners to provide security and permanence for the children of those partnerships.
Connecticut must no longer discriminate, or allow to be discriminated against children based upon the sexual orientation of their parents.
Frankly, legalized discrimination against parents based on their sexual orientation is a standard which is dated, mean spirited and therefore should end. I thank you for your attention.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your testimony. I think the last, and help me if I quote this improperly, I think the last part of your testimony was, the reason you're supporting this is because this bill provides security and permanence in the relationship and, hence, you know, stability for the child or children in that household.
Help me to understand how this bill provides better security or permanence because, you know, my initial reaction is, whether it's a civil union or a civil marriage, the person has the ability, if it's dysfunctional, to get out of the relationship.
So help me to understand where there's greater security and permanence.
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: Well, unfortunately, in many areas, such as employee benefits, the word marriage, as the last speaker said so eloquently, matters.
And for instance, if, under my insurance, if my daughter were to go to the hospital and I wasn't around, my wife would be able to give consent for treatment.
If we happen to be a same-sex couple, and I was the adopted parent or the natural parent, and the insurance was only recognized to my married partner, and we were not married because we had a civil union, my wife, my partner, could not give consent for my daughter's treatment.
A second possibility. A child is the product of two same-sex parents, and only one is recognized as being the legal parent because they are not married and that parent happens to die.
Without that legal definition, that child may get, be thrown into the foster child system, even though they have another parent that they recognize as a parent, their loving parent, that's someone they trust and have grown up with, and yet they would not be able to be taken care of by that parent.
Unfortunately, the word matters. And for the purposes of children, it matters a great deal. The current law has broken down a lot of those barriers, unfortunately, some of those barriers still exist.
REP. MORRIS: It's my understanding, and, maybe, Mr. Chairman or someone could help me, that the current law provides those benefits, so it's as it relates to the example that you gave, in regard to insurance, you wouldn't, your partner wouldn't be denied those benefits.
Our current law provides every benefit that a married person has. In the example that you gave in terms of the other child, even if it wasn't a person's child, we allow adoption rights for gay couples.
So again, you know, you're testifying on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatricians. Help me, help us, to understand how that relates to your statements that, you know, somehow by calling this now a civil marriage, we would be providing greater security or permanence?
SEN. MCDONALD: Somebody is leaning against the lights. Would you please?
REP. MORRIS: Because if the argument is primarily from a benefits standpoint, the Legislature has already provided the benefits.
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: My understanding is that in practice, in law, that may be so, but in practice, it's not.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. So, you do acknowledge that it is in law that that is, you just may not have been aware of that, that element, then?
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: I'm not an attorney, so I don't want to debate matters of law. In practice, it seems to be different.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. But then, if that was the foundation of the argument, and if, in fact, we have covered it in law, then that argument would lose its ground. Would you agree?
If your argument was that you weren't provided this, benefits, but I'm able to demonstrate by law, we have provided those benefits, then that would not be a reasonable argument, or one for our consideration that somehow we should support this law because it will then, hence, provide greater security and permanence.
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: It's more the practice.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Actually, I just wanted to clarify, before Representative Morris was attempting to, I believe, and maybe the Chairs can clarify for us, the two examples that were given by this gentleman, aren't they currently covered under our state laws, today, with civil unions?
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Sure. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The, I think the doctor is accurate in what he's saying, and it's a dilemma created by federal preemption, and the ERISA law.
In other words, under our state law, under the civil union law, it is, in fact true, that if you are in a civil union, you're entitled to all the same protections and obligations that a married couple would have.
However, for example, when it comes to health insurance benefits provided by an employer, unless that employer is like the state, in which case we can affect that, if it's a private employer, our ability to regulate their health benefits is preempted by federal law, the ERISA law.
So I think what Dr. Savoski, if I understood him correctly, I think what he's saying is probably true.
And that is, if you have two parents, and only one of whom is covered under the insurance policy because the employer won't cover the other one, because they don't provide coverage to civil union partners as they do to married partners, it's possible that the insurance company won't pay if that parent is not covered under the policy, if that parent's making the decisions.
And I think what he's, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, I think that's a dilemma that's created, if you don't have the covered employee there. If they were married, and if federal law recognized these things, you would not have that dilemma.
And to say nothing of the fact that, in addition to what I just described, you're also a partner in a civil union who actually does get coverage from the partner's policy, for example, if they're a state employee, they're actually taxed for the value of that health insurance, whereas if they were married, they wouldn't be taxed.
Now we can't directly change federal law, but I think these are examples of why clarifying that this is really a marriage would help in the long run. So I think that's the answer to his question.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman, and fortunately, I know a little bit about insurance laws in Connecticut. I have some inside information.
And I don't believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, if you know any differently, that if we were to pass marriage, I'm not trying to debate that issue, but just want to get to the reality of the situation, if we were to pass marriage, let me back up for a moment.
The employers that you are speaking of, are employers that have decided to self-fund their insurance. They're a self-funded program.
They don't, the State of Connecticut, there are some municipalities who have chosen to have a self-funded plan.
So, therefore, they are protected under the federal ERISA laws and none of our state laws, with regards to state mandates or anything else, would then apply to those plans.
Most small employers aren't self-funded because they can't afford to be because it's such a high risk. But even if we were to pass a marriage statute, we still would have no effect on those federal ERISA plans.
And, because again, they're covered under the federal, government and federal law, and if you know any differently, please let me know.
SEN. MCDONALD: You know, with all due respect, Senator Cappiello, maybe we can leave that for our Committee debate, because this is the opportunity for us to listen to members of the public.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Sure.
SEN. MCDONALD: So we can address that.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: I just wanted to be clear, because I understand what the gentleman, where the gentleman is coming from.
I just want to make sure that we understand that that isn't necessarily the case, even if we passed the statute, it would still have no effect on federal ERISA laws. For better or for worse.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Thank you, Senator Cappiello. Anything further for this, Mr. Savoski, sorry. Are there any further questions? Thank you very much for your testimony.
DR. ROB SAVOSKI: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Shirley Pripstein, followed by attorney Robert Hirtle.
SHIRLEY PRIPSTEIN: Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald, Members of the Committee, my name is Shirley Pripstein. I'm an attorney with Greater Hartford Legal Aid. My specialty is family law.
I am here today testifying before you as a representative of the Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. And I am testifying with regard to Raised Senate Bill 1449, with pertains to the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages.
Whether or not you act on the same-sex marriage bill that is before you today, and even if you pass it, there's a question as to whether it will be passed by the entire Legislature, it is important that you act on Raised Senate Bill 1449, because there is currently a hole in the Connecticut law.
We, in the civil union bill that was passed in 2005, it states that it will recognize foreign civil unions.
It does not state that it will recognize foreign same-sex marriages, and as you all know, our neighboring state, Massachusetts, does recognize same-sex marriages, and for couples who have been same-sex couples, who have been married in Massachusetts, or in Canada, who happen to be in Connecticut, or who relocate to Connecticut, they are, in law, in limbo, because we don't recognize their same-sex marriage.
What we need to do is simply say that a same-sex marriage from Massachusetts would be treated as a civil union in Connecticut. And I urge you to pass Raised Senate Bill 1449. And I will take any questions.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions for attorney Pripstein. If not, thank you for your testimony.
SHIRLEY PRIPSTEIN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Attorney Robert Hirtle, followed by Barry Clifton. Good afternoon.
ROBERT HIRTLE: Good afternoon. Senator McDonald, Members of the Committee, I am Robert Hirtle. I am an attorney in Hartford and I have acted as General Counsel to the Connecticut Chiropractic Association since 1971.
You have my statement on Raised Senate Bill 11, I'm sorry, 1448, AN ACT EXTENDING STATE PHYSICIAN PROFILES TO OTHER HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS.
The Connecticut Chiropractic Association supports this legislation because it is an attempt to treat all health care providers the same way, and would provide members of the public with the same basic information about any health care provider.
There were some professions which were not covered by this Act, we would suggest the inclusion of those professions, specifically, physical therapists, opticians, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, nurse midwives, and there may be others.
With that reservation, the Association supports this bill.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. And there are a number of bills we're hearing today, obviously, and you're one of about five speakers speaking on this bill, so I appreciate your patience today in coming and testifying before the Committee.
ROBERT HIRTLE: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any questions? If not, I appreciate your time.
ROBERT HIRTLE: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. MCDONALD: Barry Clifton, followed by Dawn Stefanowicz.
BARRY CLIFTON: Ladies and gentlemen.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm sorry. I hit the wrong button. Right out of the block. Please hit the button there, yes. There we go. Thank you.
BARRY CLIFTON: My name is Barry Clifton. I am the senior pastor at Grace Baptist in Bristol. If we were seated in my church for this long, this is the point where I would instruct everyone to give a back rub to your neighbor, so you may do that if you like.
I am here to speak in opposition to the bill today. Thirty years ago, if you would have told an average Connecticut resident that in 2007, their elected leaders would be contemplating a bill allowing for gay marriage, you would have been waived off as an alarmist, or a space alien, yet, in this brave new world in which we live, what was unthinkable a generation ago, has come to our very doorstep.
How did we get to this point? Certainly not through science alone, though I am a scientific layman.
A 1993 study, which trumpeted the discovery of the so-called gay gene, did nothing of the sort, and even the author of the study, when asked if homosexuality is rooted solely in biology, said, and I quote, absolutely not.
If science truly mattered in the discussion, we would hear analysis of the significant physical harm risked by those who engage in same-sex behavior, particularly among males.
If science truly mattered, more weight would be given to studies showing that sexual orientation is often shaped by profound, sometimes painful, environmental influences.
As we learn more about the elasticity of the human brain, we also gain insight into how repeated thoughts and behaviors literally imprint themselves on the mind to the point where behavior comes to be perceived as inescapable, even innate or inbred.
This also explains why many are able to change the direction of their sexual orientation through a variety of therapeutic methods. The process of sexual detoxification, if I can call it that, is difficult, but it is not impossible.
All this to say, my friends, if you have come to the conclusion that the scientific book on this matter is closed, you cannot be more mistaken.
And the ambiguity of the research alone should be sufficient reason to stop here and now this radical and uncalled for experimentation with one of humanity's most vital institutions.
How did we get to this point? Certainly not through common sense, either. We are like little children playing with gunpowder.
We are tinkering with realities that are greater than ourselves. Realities that cannot be reduced down to a sound bite.
We're told that love makes a family. That sounds good on a greeting card, but it doesn't work so smoothly, though, in the heart of a 19-year old woman, whose mother conceived her through a sperm bank, and now this woman is dealing with the anger and grief and confusion she's felt for so long about neither having, nor knowing, a father.
It doesn't work so smoothly in the heart of a 20-year old man I knew, who jumped with both feet into the gay community of one of large cities and emerged three years later with AIDS.
And it doesn't work so smoothly in the hearts of so many teenagers, who are not discovering who they are with greater sexual experimentation, but becoming, instead, more sexually confused and jaded, for whom Britney Spears is their poster child.
And why all this? Because we have removed all the boundaries. We have taken down all the street signs.
We have erased the warning labels, which have been handed down to us for generations to nurture us and to protect us. And now we want to take down one of the last meaningful reference points that is left.
A politician, they say, is only concerned with the next election or the lobby group with the biggest coffers. A statesman is concerned with the next generation.
If you want to help society and help the next generation, then we need to be working to strengthen marriage, not redefining it out of existence. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. Are there are any questions for Mr. Clifton? Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Good afternoon. I was going to listen, like my Chair said, to the testimonies today because I think it's important.
But sometimes I get concerned when things are being stated that are a little misleading, and you made a statement about the 20-year old boy who choose the path of being gay, or falling, whatever. I forgot. And, his payment was AIDS.
AIDS does not come from sexual preference. AIDS is a disease that I have seen very violently in my communities and in your communities, and it's not because of the choice of sex to partner with.
It's because of other issues that are going on. So I think we have to be very careful about how we define different paths of choice or sexual preference.
Then you made a statement that the woman that's 19 who decides to have a baby because she got artificial insemination, but there are couples who do that, who are heterosexual, as well as gay couples who do that. So that again does not have the same premise.
So I think I understand that your ambivalence to this choice. That's okay. But we have to be very careful about how we define the different roles.
So in that regard, I respect you totally for your opposition, and I think that's perfectly fine. But I think we have to be very careful about how we define those partners.
BARRY CLIFTON: One clarification. The 19-year old was, herself, the product of artificial insemination. She is speaking from the anguish of her own heart. And I do agree with the clarification, that we do not want to say that if you choose this path, this is what your end will be.
But I do think we need to recognize the statistical evidence that suggests that, that if you embrace this lifestyle, you are facing these possibilities.
And there's a book by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover. I could recommend to anyone to read. Talks, called Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, which does a much better job of analyzing in detail some of the statistical realities that people who are in the homosexual community have to deal with.
And as a pastor dealing with teenagers and young people who are dealing with these own choices in their own life, I have to be honest to them and share these with them. Some of the things that they may be facing.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there, is there anything further? Representative Gonzalez.
REP. GONZALEZ: I would like to say something about Representative Walker. Also I think that us, as Legislators, we have to be careful also while we decide. Sometimes we don't know. We vote for things for laws that maybe, maybe will help kids, but maybe will also hurt kids.
And I remember a story, I remember a story ten years ago. I met a young girl, 14 years old. And she kept running away from home and always ended up in court.
And one day I decided, I got next to her and I said, why are you crying. Your mother is downstairs. And she said, she's not my mother. And I said, well, I thought she was your mother. She's always here. And she said, no.
And then she kept crying. And I said, well, why are you crying? And she said, I embarrassed. I am embarrassed because I'm mad at the state, and I don't think that the state, she said, had the right to make a decision for my life when I was five years old, they gave me up for adoption. And why didn't the state get me a mother and a father.
And she ran away from home. The girl was miserable, and she ended up on the street because she said that she really, really was, she couldn't understand that. She said, I would like to sue the state.
I would like to sue the state because by now, look at my life. They laugh at me at school. They do this and do that. And we know that the kids are cruel, sometimes.
But sometimes we've got to know when to stop as Legislators. We have to understand what is right and what is wrong. And the same way that she has her concern, and she did explain, I think that I have the same right. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: All right. I appreciate the statements, but this is our opportunity to hear from members of the public, and we will hear from members of the public. Are there any questions?
REP. GONZALEZ: If you would let me finish, I do have a question.
SEN. MCDONALD: Frame your question.
REP. GONZALEZ: My question was, what is wrong with, with civil union? What is wrong? Is that not when we recognize them as a couple? What is wrong with civil union?
SEN. MCDONALD: If you would care to respond, Sir.
BARRY CLIFTON: The question today is one of marriage.
REP. GONZALEZ: Exactly. Exactly, and that's fine. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any further questions? A question from Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: I'm losing it in the midst of this. You talked earlier, and I understand that you're a pastor, but you talked earlier about some research that you considered ambiguous.
Could you talk to us a little bit more about that? I mean, you were talking about those who changed through, you know, change orientation through a process, and that really isn't, isn't the discussion for today.
The discussion today has more to do with those who are feeling very comfortable with their orientation and want to get married, or want to be together.
But you talked about some research that should give us pause before we go forward with this law. What is that research that you were referring to?
BARRY CLIFTON: Well, I think a simple Internet search would show that there is a broad diversification of what the causes of homosexuality are, and what its possible harmful effects are, and can it be treated or not.
And my point is, just to call attention to the larger ambiguity that there is not a consensus about this at all at this point.
And so at a point in our culture's history, when we're still really in our infancy in terms of understanding this part of human sexuality, should we be proceeding so quickly ahead in redefining such a basic institution as marriage?
So I'm just calling attention to the fact that there's still a great societal debate going on, as evidenced by the fact that we have three full rooms here today. Is this the time and place to rush ahead into these dark woods where none of us have been before?
REP. MORRIS: I see those as two separate issues, because the issue here on the table, again, is whether we're going to go from some civil union to marriage. Not so much the issue of orientation.
So let me change and go to a different direction. Since you're a pastor with a congregation, how does your congregation feel about marriage? What are their challenges? What are their arguments, pro or con?
BARRY CLIFTON: I think the gal who spoke earlier, and at length, really represented very well our thoughts about marriage.
The idea that the gold standard of human sexuality, is, as I understand it, as a pastor, as a father, as a man, is, I think, her three arguments had to do with children and raising them and making sure that they had a father and mother. Those, her arguments spoke very well for our point of view.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 2A to Tape 2B.]
BARRY CLIFTON: -- in this room has beliefs about right and wrong that we all entertain, and I think those beliefs come from a variety of sources. I think you have some people in the room. Their source of right or wrong is Oprah, or maybe the latest opinion poll.
What informs my sense of right and wrong, as a pastor, is 4,000 years of our Judeo-Christian tradition, what the Bible teaches, and what has historically been understood has been, what marriage is.
And that forms the choices, and the values that I hold, and I'm not ashamed of that. We all have some place, some source, that cultivates in us our sense of what is right and wrong, and this nation was founded on principles that were formed by that same tradition. That's where I draw my insights from.
REP. MORRIS: Is marriage, whether we call it civil marriage or marriage, a concept, because the previous speaker, I think her name is Mrs. Gallagher, considered a social institution in any context, do you, as a pastor, take ownership to that institution.
BARRY CLIFTON: Oh, absolutely it is. And I would add layers to that as a pastor, were I dealing with a couple who is getting married in my own teaching from the pulpit, though most of what I said, in fact all of what I said, didn't make reference to religion at all.
These were just straightforward answers, regardless of faith. But yes, if we were sitting down in a living room and talking about this, there are deeper levels to this that we could get into and involve scripture and faith.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Is there anything further for Mr. Clifton? Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: I heard you just refer to it as a social institution. Would you, if you said marriage was a spiritual institution, would that be associated with being married in a church, or would it apply even if they weren't married in a church?
BARRY CLIFTON: Could you rephrase your question?
SEN. GOMES: If you referred to marriage as a spiritual institution, like you just referred to it as a social institution, would you, would that equate to a marriage, married outside of the church, such as a justice of the peace, as opposed to married in a church? Would you still refer to that?
BARRY CLIFTON: I see it as a civic and a spiritual union, and we're addressing the civil implications today. And again, Ms. Gallagher I think, expressed why we need to support that.
SEN. GOMES: No. What I was saying, would you recognize a spiritual, marriage as a spiritual institution outside of being married in a church?
BARRY CLIFTON: Obviously, there is a spiritual dimension here that is very profound and that I believe in. I'm not quite sure where we are going with that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further? If not, thank you very much, Sir.
BARRY CLIFTON: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Dawn Stefanowicz, followed by Rick McKinniss. Good afternoon, Ma'am.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Thank you, Co-Chairs and Honorable Members. My name is Dawn Stefanowicz, for the record.
I grew up in an alternative family form that impacted me significantly, and I don't have time to share my full written testimony, but I will cover some aspects.
In some ways, my upbringing was like other children. I attended school, community programs and attended church. I did not have a religious view on sexual orientation, instead I had my own views from own personal experience, and I want to make that clear.
My father was involved in active homosexuality, different partnerships. He also, if I could just say this, he was married to my mother and had a heterosexual union first that was recognized by law.
But he had had prior relationships that would be considered homosexual in nature. I was at high-risk of exposure to different pathogens, including hepatitis as a teenager due to my father's sexual behavior.
The reason I have to bring that in is because it's children. There has not been a lot of research done on the various aspects that we can be exposed to, physically, to our health, mentally, as well as our medical conditions.
My father discarded a number of partners, and I was grieved by some suicides that occurred when I was quite young. I was overtly exposed to the subcultures beginning at 8 years old.
I'm coming from a very different background, maybe, than some other adult children that may have had similar experiences. They may not have been overtly exposed to the subcultures as I was, growing up in a very cosmopolitan city like Toronto.
What I want to make of is, is that with the communication that I've had with other adult children that have come through some similarities to what I have, we do have some concerns and risks that we share.
We don't feel like we belong. We feel like we're silenced. We're dependent in a situation where we cannot express our own conscience, our own feelings, about how our parent is living their life and the choices that they have made.
We struggle with our sexuality, oftentimes, some of us have explored different areas of sexual experimentation. I will not elaborate.
We have had a very broad understanding of sexuality and gender and, what I believe, what marriage, if you legislate marriage for same-sex couples, you are basically redefining the understanding of what parent means, what husband and wife mean.
And I believe it's very significant that children have both a mother and a father that are married, if at all possible.
I struggled with a fair bit of anxiety and stress growing up in my situation and I really feel that the freedom to speak and your freedom to share your opinions and to dialog is so important and, again, children, I believe, need a mother and a father who are married.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony. Are there any questions? If not, thank you for your time.
REP. ROWE: Mr. Chair.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm sorry. Representative Rowe.
REP. ROWE: That's okay. Thank you. Thanks for your testimony. How would you answer those who, who said, well, your experience, we agree, was, was rather poor and hurtful, but that there are children in otherwise normal heterosexual marriages that had bad childhoods and were exposed to bad influences, if that's the right terminology.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Where I'm coming from is when you're raised in my kind of environment, you're more cultured. You have an understanding of a wider understanding of what culture means.
And so you're juggling, as a child growing up in this environment with, okay. Why does he have a mother and a father? Why does his family look like this? And mine doesn't look exactly like his situation.
It's very challenging as a child growing up in an environment where you can't share with other people about your father's lifestyle because people don't understand, first of all, and you carry that burden of your parents' sexual preferences, and it influences your identity as a child growing up.
A child growing up even with two parents that are, say, co-habitating, it doesn't seem to have the same kind of social stigma.
But deeper than that, my identity was influenced, personally, by my father's sexuality, and it took me the first 30 years of my life to begin to disconnect from my father's identity and really have a sense of my own personal identity.
Marriage, to me, is crucial and should be fenced with boundaries in how it's defined, and I think that you, as Legislators, are able to, and Senators, are able to make a decision based on the facts, recognizing that children are deeply impacted long term by the decision you make about marriage, whether you are to have same-sex marriage or not to have same-sex marriage.
REP. ROWE: Your testimony cites a number of studies which conclude, I think, that children parented by a mother and a father in a monogamous, stable, long term or on-going marriage, are better off than those that are not.
And so far, the testimony before us, I think, has been bereft of studies and statistics. Your testimony is full of them. Can you, maybe, very briefly, touch on some of the studies that your testimony cites?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Okay. To begin with, looking at parenting, I have to say that the, there needs to be consideration for the fact that there is the American College of Pediatricians that is in disagreement with the American Academy of Pediatricians on the issue of same-sex parenting, and that needs to be brought to the table.
There is a reference in my testimony to that extent. Dr. Zanga is the President of the American College of Pediatricians, along with some other physicians and a lawyer, did write a letter that was in disagreement with, you know, a study that, based on same-sex studies, a report that came out about that.
I really have a problem with the research because from the reading that I have done, it has basically looked at population samples that have been taken directly from the gay and lesbian subcultures.
And there are a number of children that are being raised by a parent that has identified as gay and lesbian that is not necessarily going to be associated directly with the subcultures.
And they may be quieter about how their family form is, and they are not part of those studies.
So there is a wider group of children that have not been researched as to how we are impacted long term. The other problem I have is that in a number of those studies, they were an interview format.
And the interviewer knew that when she was, or he was, doing this research, he or she knew that this particular child came from either a heterosexual union or a homosexual, was in a homosexual situation, same-sex parent situation. So that already built bias into the studies.
And so I do have a lot of problems with the sampling. It was small in size, and I don't believe it's substantial enough at this point in time to base a major decision like this on those kinds of studies.
And you can look to my footnotes for more detail about those studies. There is also on the American College of Pediatricians, something called the replication of quotation errors, that you may want to read first before you do make your decision.
REP. ROWE: Thank you. And maybe one final line. You grew up in Canada?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. ROWE: Okay. Are you still, do you still live there?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I live in Canada, but we do not have freedom to even dialog and hear two different perspectives or three on this issue. So I really do appreciate your opportunity to have freedom of speech.
We do not have this in Canada. We have, not only do we have hate crime legislation, we have what are called human rights tribunals that silence freedom of speech on the issue of whether you're dealing with sexual orientation or are you dealing with, anything to do with that would be considered homophobic.
You cannot dialog openly and freely in the public realm through media, through any kind of public forum without risking a complaint being made against you at a human rights tribunal, which could bring you a fine to the person who's made the complaint, or could be a few people that have made that complaint, as well as often incurring in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
So it is very, very difficult to even have a dialog as we are having today on this issue. The other problem we have is Canadians, about 70%, are in disagreement with same-sex marriage.
But because it's already been legislated, they're at a position where our laws are being changed in the academic institutions, like our elementary, middle school, high school, grade levels.
All the children are being presented with material that parents, not all parents are in agreement with, and they may not have the freedom to opt their children out, as per what we have in British Columbia.
So we have a fair bit of, we're already seeing that same-sex marriage and some other former legislation that has been passed, is creating a very, some very big changes to our culture, to our society, that maybe was not fully considered.
We also do have polygamist relationships in Canada, even though it's against the law right now, the government's in a situation where they don't know if they can enforce that law because of same-sex marriage.
And you can have polygamist relationships, not just through heterosexually, but homosexually and bi-sexually.
So we're in a realm now where we really can't stop polygamy from being legalized and our government actually had a committee looking at that, but this was not made available to the public.
This was happening behind closed doors. So we are really seeing the outcome of changing how society looks at marriage.
REP. ROWE: And when, forgive my question, but when did Canada, was it the Canadian Parliament that passed marriage permitting, or a law permitting same-sex marriage and when?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: In 2005, June, I believe. But we were waiting for a new government to come in and consider re-opening that debate, to see if we were going to be, if we could look at it again.
Our members of Parliament voted against that. We've had a lot of challenges with the freedom of our members, within the different parties, to vote according to conscience. They've often had to vote according to party line.
REP. ROWE: So was the law passed in 2005 in Canada?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. ROWE: Okay. And so the free speech difficulties that you've talked about have arisen essentially in the past year, year and a half?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: We had hate crime legislation passed in 2004, which I also did testify concerning some issues I had with that. The same kind of arguments were being brought up, freedom of speech, freedom of religion.
We have, for instance, marriage counselors, sorry, marriage commissioners who are paid for by the state to perform marriage ceremonies who have lost their jobs because they could not marry a same-sex couple. It was against their conscience and/or their religious beliefs.
So we're in a situation now where the majority of Canadians, if they were to speak up on this issue, are at great risk of being fined and silenced. I'm not making an overstatement here.
We have media, even some fragments in the media, where they do take chances and they are not guaranteed in the media, neither are members of Parliament guaranteed, their freedom to dialog on any of these issues with having same-sex marriage passed and our hate crime legislation and our human rights tribunals.
REP. ROWE: Thank you for your time. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative O'Neill.
REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was curious about this subject that you just brought up regarding your ability to speak. Now you're still a Canadian citizen?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. O'NEILL: And after you finish testifying here, are you going back to Canada? Because you've spoken the way you've spoken here, is there any danger of you being subjected to some sort of action by the Canadian authorities?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I am not 100% sure on this. What I've been told is, when I provide testimony, there should be a level of protection there.
My challenge is in the media. The Canadian media is, if I was speaking in Canada, in the same way that I have spoken here.
I would have, I would be at greater risk of there being a problem, criminally, or, you know, whether it's a human rights tribunals, or, I don't know the hate crime legislation right now.
Hate crime has not been defined and sexual orientation has not been defined. So I'm less likely to be charged with a hate crime, but more likely to be charged through a human rights tribunal.
They're 100%, almost 100% opposed to any kind of critical speech or expression towards homosexuality or even same-sex unions now or same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, anything dealing with legislation that would be associated in some way with diverse sexuality.
REP. O'NEILL: And you just mentioned same-sex adoptions. Now the history in Connecticut was that various people voted for allowing same-sex adoptions and Senator Kissel, you may have heard, if you were here, indicated that he saw that as the first step down the slippery slope.
Do they have same-sex adoptions in Canada? Did you follow the same pattern of development of law?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I believe that's been going on for a number of years through the social agencies. They have been placing children in same-sex households.
REP. O'NEILL: But that all preceded same-sex marriage being adopted?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes, I believe so.
REP. O'NEILL: Do you know of anyone who has come to testify in the United States, has gone back to Canada, who's been prosecuted in some way?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Not currently that I know of. I do have concern over freedom of speech. This is my personal experience, again, my personal story that I'm sharing.
And I do have opinions from my personal experience and from that of hearing other concerned adult children that have gone through, again, we're all going to have, there is going to be our unique stories and on my, I actually have a website you can go to. It's DawnStefanowicz.com.
In that website I do have seven other stories from adult children and their personal experiences and how they feel about certain area, certain things, on there you can review, if you would like.
I also do have a page on concerns and risks that we have experienced and not all of us have gone through therapy and a number of us have not necessarily been able to resolve the long-term impact and influences, and so, it takes a number of decades to work this out.
Sexuality is an extremely complex issue that we really are not capable of fully understanding as children, or as adolescents, or even in our 20's.
Our brain is fully developed at about age 25, if you're purely looking at it physiologically. But your ability to comprehend the full impact of our environments that we are exposed to, I believe, doesn't really begin until that, physiologically we are ready, and then we are ready to face those issues.
I went through a fair bit of denial as a child and as an adolescent. In my situation, I was not allowed to express disagreement with my father, and I loved him very much. I really did.
I would not have said anything negative about him publicly while he was alive. He passed away of AIDS when I was 29 years old.
His last partner also passed away of AIDS, and a number of his other partners that I have been able to search out have also passed away.
It's very challenging to be a child and you don't necessarily have a lot of people around you that can understand this, all the different ramifications.
And I think, as decision-makers, you have to consider how will this impact children. There's a number of people here that have their views, and they're important views, but I would say that you have to place the needs of children above adults' wants, because children are your future.
And I have gone through a fair bit of struggle, which I do not have time to go through here, to even get to this point, to be able to speak publicly.
REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Klarides.
REP. KLARIDES: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Dawn, I want to thank you for coming in today. I know that it must be difficult for you, and I know you have trouble in your own country, and I think you made a very good point that all of us in this room, some people strongly agree, some people strongly disagree and then, you know, a lot of people are in the middle somewhere.
But we're allowed to do this without fear of repercussions. So, that's a very good point. I think you reminded us of certain things we forget a lot of times in this country.
But I just have a couple of questions for you. And I certainly don't mean to diminish your experiences because, first of all, I respect everybody's experiences and everybody's feelings, and it seems like you did have a tough time with your parents and the way they lived their lives.
But I guess what confuses me is, the example you gave about, I guess, your dad and your mom were married, and then your dad had other relationships?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. KLARIDES: And he kind of brought them into the home and that affected you. Is that it in a nutshell?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: We have different, in our household situations, we have different living arrangements, different family forums.
It isn't necessarily going to be two-man or two-women. We could have multiple partners involved with our parent.
So you can't limit it to just two-man or two-women, and that's why polygamy is an area, seriously, that Canada has had to look at, because it isn't, again, just, you might think it's just going to be two people.
But I did not find my father and his partners, just, you know, just involved sexually with just one other person. They often had multiple partners, even when they appeared to be in a monogamous relationship.
REP. KLARIDES: I mean, I just speak for myself. You know, morally, that would be, I mean, that certainly would be a serious problem for me and it certainly wouldn't be something that I would think is acceptable to put a child, you know, allow a child to observe and live with.
But I guess where my problem comes in is, we can have that with heterosexual couples. You know, I am sure there are many heterosexual couples that put their children in the same harm's way, so to speak, and it's just as bad.
You know, I mean, where you have men and women that are married and one person has an affair, or several affairs, or they bring multiple partners into the home and it's, you're right, our concern should be children.
And I know on this Committee and in every other Committee in this building, you know, we focus on that a lot, as it should be.
Having said that, I guess, I don't really see, I don't draw the line between if it's a heterosexual couple doing it versus a homosexual couple doing it, because it's harmful to the child either way.
And secondly, I guess, even though it's much more prevalent now, maybe 50 years ago, or probably a lot closer in time than that, I mean, how many times do you hear children who are traumatized and have effects from divorce?
You know, I mean, it's a mom-and-dad home and then, all of a sudden, there's a divorce and there's just the mom or just the dad, or neither, sometimes, unfortunately, and there's a lot of, there are a lot of problems because of that.
And you know, I don't see the answer that to that being, okay, well, you can't get divorced. So I guess to me, it's the effects on children and if there's, if children are being put in harm's way, whether it's mentally, morally, ethically, whatever it is.
I think we need to look at the children and how that's affecting the children. Not whether it's two men that are doing it, two women, or a man and a women.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Gender is really important for a child's sexual development. And I was extremely confused about my own sexuality in growing up in this environment and from talking with other adult children, we have faced some of the same kinds of questing. It's a very, very deep issue for us.
So we recognize the importance of gender, even more so because we can't take it for granted. In our household situation, there is one gender that will not be valued equally with the other gender.
And in my household, women were not valued. And as a daughter, I found that my father could not affirm my own femininity and womanhood properly because he could not, he could not love women. Could not love a woman the same way that he was able to love a man.
So I felt, you know, personally, I'm just sharing my personal story, that I was not equal to a man. I felt I was not as important and it really does impact someone's self-esteem when you do not see both genders in your household valued.
REP. KLARIDES: And I want to repeat this, just so I'm very clear. I applaud you for coming out because I think you are, at the very least, giving information that a lot of people don't have. You're giving us information.
I know you go and you speak, you know, you have your website and you do other things, so I certainly do--
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I recognize that there are different family situations that children are raised in, and children don't have a choice on it.
But when it comes to legislative or Senate's making decisions that will impact all of society, there needs to be, I believe, a higher standard where you consider the ramifications long term and it's something that we do not have even enough research on at this point of some of the dangers that children are exposed to in the kind of household that I grew up in.
You know, I have to, I mean, there are definitely going to be risks in my situation that a child growing up in a heterosexual home would not be at risk, or to the same degree of risk, just because, even with my father, say he had less partners, or whatever the situation.
Say he was in monogamous relationship for a period of time. There are going to be a number of risk factors that are still not going to be found in a heterosexual household.
REP. KLARIDES: And I agree with that, completely. But I also think that there are risk factors that are in a heterosexual household that are not in a homosexual household.
And, as far as, you know, you talking about your identity as a woman and your self-esteem, I mean, I've been very involved for years with a lot of domestic violence groups, and sitting there, and, you know, whether it's been support groups that I've sat in on, or legal work that I've done for them, volunteer things that I've done, I mean, you see that all the time and most of those households are not homosexual households.
Not to say that, it's like I'm saying, I don't, I know it's happening in those households, but it's also happening in the heterosexual households.
And, I mean, there are tons of women that can come out and say their self-esteem is low because their dad, you know, and these are all legitimate issues, I mean, I'm not diminishing any of them, but because their dad didn't respect their mom, or their dad didn't respect women, and they were purely heterosexual relationships.
So I'm just saying that although I understand what you're saying, and I respect it all, and I think that it's accurate, for the most part, it's just as accurate in a heterosexual household.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: In my father's relationships--
SEN. MCDONALD: Excuse me. Representative Klarides, you were still talking. Do you have any question that you wanted to ask? Please proceed.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Sorry.
REP. KLARIDES: I just have, you know, one other question. You're here today to give us the information that you have.
Do you see that, I mean, this hearing, we already have civil unions in Connecticut and this hearing is to discuss going further with that law.
With what you're saying today, with the law that we already have, would be the same problems as with having gay marriage, let's say, versus civil unions, because what you're saying is living in a homosexual home with two homosexual parents is not healthy for children. Is that what you're, so it's not really about civil unions versus marriage.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Marriage. Yes, it is about marriage. Because marriage is an institution that needs to be recognized and there needs to be a higher standard in the area of marriage.
I think, personally, where I'm coming from, if you hand out particular rights to outside of marriage, then who's to say that you're not going to have two sisters or two brothers come forward and say, you know, we've been living together for 30 years, or 20 years, and we want to have the same level of recognition in our relationship and have the same sorts of benefits.
I know that's not on the table today, but that is something that I have challenges around any union that has, you know, whether it's a same-sex union, whatever name you call it, and there are children in that situation.
Personally, I have a feeling inside of me that this is not good for children, and from the experiences I've had and the research I've done and from speaking with other adult children, again, sharing similarities, we see risks and we have concerns.
REP. KLARIDES: Well, thank you for coming.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Other questions? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You said earlier that you've got a website and you do a lot of this advocacy along these lines. Have you had communication with any other children who've grown up in alternative family forms and, if so, why haven't more adult children come forward?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I can include myself. We're terrified. If our parent and/or one of the partners or more are still alive, we do not feel comfortable sharing because, again, there's something inside that you don't want to hurt the feelings of your parent.
However, I am in a situation where my father is deceased, and he has been deceased now for going on 16 years, and I feel that, even though it's difficult to go public, I need to share my story so that others can consider what this impact can have on children and, you know, future generations.
The adult children that I am in touch with often take, there's a long period of time in our adulthood where we have to work out different levels of going public.
Not all of us will. Most of us don't. Those that do often do not come out with a real name. And when they choose to come out with a real name it's often due to the fact that they have worked through those issues and are ready to go public and share that.
Again, you won't find us in our teens while we're living at home and are dependents, expressing our disagreement with our parent and/or their partners, because, you know, we're completely dependent economically and physically and emotionally in that household situation.
And we are not going to rock the boat at that point, because we need to get, first of all, a foothold, some level of independence before we can step out and develop our own identity.
REP. MORRIS: You said your dad passed and his last partner passed away as well. Am I correct?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: Of your dad and his partners, did you ever feel that any of them, that you could feel comfortable enough to call daddy?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: No.
REP. MORRIS: What were the relationships like?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I had no choice in whom my father was partnered with. There was a relationship my father had up until I was five years old, that if a lawyer, or say a judge had ruled that that father, that man be a father figure to me, I would have had no say in that, and I would not have wanted that man to have those kinds of rights over my life.
There were other relationships, I would say, three different relationships my father had over a 20-year period that somebody could have stepped in and said, you know, he is going to be your other daddy and I never would have accepted any of them as another daddy.
REP. MORRIS: You may not have accepted any of them, but did you feel support from any of them?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: No. They would buy me gifts but there seemed to be an ulterior motive. I wouldn't say that about everybody but, you know, other people's experiences, but in my situation, I did not feel that my best interests were being considered by one of my father's partners.
REP. MORRIS: Let me ask you, because you told us a lot about how things are in Canada. Let me ask you. Do most Canadian gays and lesbians want same-sex marriage?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: No. It's a fraction of those that would say, I have a problem as well with sexual orientation. Growing up in my environment I saw all different types of relationships and some people who didn't even want a label of gay or lesbian or bi-sexual.
I don't know where on the continuum they wanted to be labeled, but a lot of them didn't want to be labeled. They just chose to be, whether it was a man or a woman or whoever they wanted to be with. I know I'm getting off topic a bit, but I have to get back.
In Canada, we do not have the, you know, obviously, we do not have the same freedoms that you have here, and if you could just re-word your question, I would appreciate it.
REP. MORRIS: Yes. My question was, do most Canadian gays and lesbians want same-sex marriage, or I were to even reframe that, I guess, the concern would be, you know, do most Canadians, now that you have same-sex legislation, do they approve of that legislation?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: It's a small clique within the subculture that actually want this. They are the more politically active ones.
They're the ones that people tend to go to, the media tend to go to, to be the outspoken people that are supposed to be representing everyone who's gay and lesbian and, well, the problem with that is, the majority of gay and lesbian people do not want to have any kind of restrictions on their sexuality or on who they're partnered with.
They don't want any government intervention in their relationships. They don't require or feel they need, any recognition, legally, or any other way. It is a minority that pursue same-sex marriage.
REP. MORRIS: If I can that follow that you, so we're not as subjective. Do you have any actual statistics or anything about the numbers of people within Canada, now that you've got the same-sex legislation, opted to marry? And what percentage of that, is that of the entire population? If you would happen to know?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: I do not have something with me right now. We have a problem in Canada because we have people coming from outside of Canada to get married, and I don't know if our government is properly keeping records of how many are Canadian citizens and how many are not.
That's something that I, if you would like, I could go back and see what I can find out about that.
REP. MORRIS: That would be helpful to know how many opted to do this and what percentage it was of the population.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Our latest consensus, Canadian census on this, in 2003, we had about 1% of the population identifying as gay and lesbian, gay and/or lesbian.
REP. MORRIS: One percent of the entire population?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: Of Canada?
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: And so a tiny fraction of that has opted for same-sex marriage.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you very much for your testimony and for sharing your story today.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there other questions? Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have a question. I just wanted to apologize. I have to go to Appropriations, but I want to thank everyone for testifying, and I will try and watch the rest of this on CTN later this evening. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thanks very much. Other questions? If not, thank you. Thank you very much for coming.
DAWN STEFANOWICZ: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Rick McKinniss, and Mr. McKinniss to be followed by Reverend Dubuque, then Michael Morand, then Nancy Stratford.
RICK MCGINNIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That bell wasn't for me. I'm here to testify in opposition of Raised House Bill 7395.
And what I'd like to call the Committee's attention to are some things that Ms. Stefanowicz referenced and also some things that are happening in our neighboring state to the north in Massachusetts.
It's been stated already by those who've testified in favor of this bill that there are no consequences, and even the Boston Globe editorial was questioned that no heterosexual marriage was damaged since same-sex marriage has been passed in Massachusetts.
I just want to allude to two things. One, Dawn referenced but in Canada in the short time that same-sex marriage has been legalized, court action has already been forwarded contesting the legal restrictions against polygamy.
This is already happening in provincial courts in Canada, cases are moving forward. The rationale for these court actions are direct extensions of the reasoning used to advance same-sex marriage.
If marriage is to be afforded to any two persons who seek such a legal union, then on what logical basis is it to be denied to any three or four persons who, for whatever reasons, seek such a union?
Once marriage has been removed from its basic binary formulation of a man and a woman entering into a solemn covenantal union, who is anyone, or any legislative body, to limit it?
Emotive arguments of self-defined love and the pain of discrimination attached to polygamy are being advanced in these cases, just as we've heard here today in Connecticut advocating same-sex marriage.
The key point here that I want to make for the Committee is this is not wild speculation on my part. These cases are actually being moved forward through the provincial courts in Canada as we are here.
It's a direct result of the legalization of same-sex marriage. It is simply a dodge and disingenuous for those who are in support of changing the definition of marriage to argue that they're only speaking of a union of two. There are direct consequences to the actions that this Committee and the legislative body as a whole will take.
Furthermore, in this country there's an advocacy network called Beyond Marriage that includes signatories from both within and without the gay community.
This network is actual, is actively calling for a legal definition of family to include, quote, households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.
These are the next steps of a movement that is now publicly clothed in calls for equality in marriage. These steps namely are polygamy and polyamarry, which Ms. Stefanowicz referenced.
And then as I might say, Massachusetts, where a court mandated same-sex marriage has now become law, a man by the name of David Parker, Lexington, Massachusetts, was horrified when he heard that his kindergarten son was exposed to aggressive homosexual sex education. This is a kindergarten boy.
When he went to the school to ask that he might be notified when this was going to happen again so that he might have kept his son from this indoctrination, he was not only refused, but when he asked to see the superintendent and the school board, he was ultimately arrested.
In the court action that's gone forward in Mr. Parker's case, the judge said that Mr. Parker vacated his rights of input on these matters when he, quote, chose to send his son to public school.
These basic losses of parental rights and freedom are a direct consequence of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, opening the door to an aggressive agenda of homosexual indoctrination of our youngest and most impressionable citizens.
And if you want, all you need to do is a web search on David Parker, and find the details of this case.
I've been frankly appalled that none of the press in Connecticut has picked this up. It's barely been covered in Massachusetts, but it's an on-going action in Lexington, Mass.
These are two consequences that are already going forward as a result of our neighbor to the north in Canada and Massachusetts where same-sex marriage has been legalized.
I want to call these matters to the Committee's attention, and thank you for the opportunity to testify here today.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks very much. Are there questions? If not, oh, Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: I'm just ignorant. I want to ask, what is that word, polyamarry mean?
RICK McGinnis: I had to look it up, myself. It's a definition of conjugal relationship that includes multiple partners.
So if your wife and you and my wife and I decided that we loved one another and the four of us wanted to be in a sexual relationship, that's the definition of polyamarry.
SEN. GOMES: What we called swinging.
REP. LAWLOR: Any other questions? If not, thanks very much, Sir. Next is Reverend DuBuque.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: Dear voters and Legislators of the State of Connecticut. My name is Raymond DuBuque.
I spent the very, the first 33 years of my life as a very devout Roman Catholic and became a priest and a seminary professor for a few years. Since then, I've been a United Methodist clergyman.
But I'm here to represent today two people smarter than myself. The first person is a Pope, who can't be here because he was one of the six very powerful liberal leaders of the Catholic Church at the time, who all died within a period of six months, it's all historical [Gap in Testimony. Changing from Tape 2B to Tape 3A.]
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: --but under extremely suspicious circumstances, during this 6-month period, the first Pope at the time was Paul the VI.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: A fairly liberal Pope.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: Followed by this Pope, whose name was John Paul the First. And nobody here really knows much about him, I'm sure, because he was Pope for just 33 days. And he was followed by John Paul the Second.
Among the many blatant lies told by Vatican officials about this Pope was that he was a very sickly man, which would explain his natural death, and that he was a typical old-fashioned conservative cardinal.
But the truth, Luciani was an extremely healthy champion Alpine mountain climber, and that he was poised to drag the Roman Catholic Church kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Luciani was the first bishop appointed by the very liberal Pope, John the 23rd, who referred to Luciani as the Einstein of the Roman Catholic Church, in part, no doubt, because Luciani first attracted Einstein's own attention when he wrote a profound article about the Bible at age 13, which reached all of Europe at the time.
And perhaps caused Einstein at the time, or a little later, to refer to this future Pope as, Luciani thinks of things today as the rest of us will think of them a thousand years from now.
His views on homosexuality were not just advanced for the last century, they are advanced even in our time, but three minutes won't allow me to get into that.
So I urge you all to read the book about him called Murder In The Vatican, or to explore my web page on that subject, which you can find at LiberalsLikeChrist.org/murdered Pope.
You will see that this Pope was killed to prevent the Catholic Church from finally having to admit that it has been wrong on many controversial issues, only one of which is homosexuality.
The second person I'd like to represent is a teenager who wrote to the author of this book. Dear Mr. Gregory. My name is Tommy.
I read your Murder In The Vatican. I was born with one eye and had a wrinkled face, so nobody wanted me. I think I scared them.
Then one day, when I five years old, my father showed up and took me home. I remember the kids used to laugh at me on the playground.
Then my fathers sold everything they had, including the house, and I spent a long time in the hospital and the doctors and nurses made me look good.
We still have many bills to pay but now I am quite a ladies man at school. I hit my first home run last summer, and this year I'm going to hit 40 more.
My parents love me, that is, they used to love me. Now, only one of them loves me because the other one is dead. He gave his life trying to win freedom for Iraq. He died on my 14th birthday.
As you know, I won't be getting any benefits from the Army or from the Social Security to pay for my education or my medical bills because my parents did not have the freedom to marry and I was adopted by the father who is still with me.
REP. LAWLOR: Reverend. If you could just, we're trying to keep everyone close to three minutes, if we could.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: I didn't, I didn't even get the medals, his Purple Heart or his Bronze Star, because the Army gave them to his parents, who hated him, and they sold them in a tag sale. I would have liked to have had them.
I think Tommy says better than any of us what it's like to be a child of a married, or of a family where the parents are not recognized as married.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions from the Committee? Representative O'Neill.
REP. O'NEILL: Where was Tommy's, where were Tommy's fathers living? In Connecticut?
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: No. No. I don't have that information. He wrote to the author, but that information's not provided.
REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Because in Connecticut he could have gotten into a civil union.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: Pardon?
REP. O'NEILL: Because under, in Connecticut they could have gotten into a civil union.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: Some of the rights are provided by civil union however, if the parents move anywhere, where the civil union is not recognized, it's just a piece of paper. A worthless piece of paper.
REP. O'NEILL: But in most states, we don't know the answer to this definitely, but 30 states have adopted some type of legislation that would not recognize the marriages that are performed in California, or, Massachusetts, rather.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: Right.
REP. O'NEILL: So it still wouldn't do them any good if they had been living in, say, Oklahoma or Indiana or Ohio.
REV. RAYMOND DUBUQUE: The small step that is taken here in Connecticut is not the full trip that needs to be taken. Until marriages are recognized country-wide, Americans will be at risk if they're only in a state where some rights are recognized.
So hopefully, Connecticut's taking a leadership role now, just as it did years ago when it rejected the laws against birth control. Connecticut's a leading state because it's a very progressive state, and I hope it's going to take the lead here with marriage.
REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? If not, thank you very much, Reverend DuBuque.
And let me just point out, since we are trying to adhere to this 3-minute rule, you should know that Members of the Committee have access to all of your full written statements.
I notice many people have supplied written statements. We have computers up here with us, and, oftentimes when people come to testify, we can read their statements as they're going.
So if you can't get to a particular point, you might want to simply reference your statement and beyond that, people watching at home, or watching in the middle of the night on CTN, can do the same thing.
All of this is on-line, and I think I should explain for people who haven't testified here before, there is a verbatim transcript made of all of these public hearings.
And so everything you testify on is kept as part of the permanent record of whatever bill you're testifying on.
And the same goes for the written submissions you've made. You can, if you go to the Judiciary Committee's website, you can see all of the written testimony organized by bill number.
All of that will stay as part of the permanent record of our deliberations. And later on, if bills come up for a vote, Legislators typically go back and see what people said at the public hearing to figure out what the arguments were for and against.
And if a bill becomes law, this is part of the formal legislative history of the bill so even in court cases, years from now, sometimes people will refer back to the public hearing testimony to understand what was intended by the law.
And so your role here today is actually an important part of the law-making process and everything, there's a permanent record of everything.
So please understand that even though Members of the Committee are coming and going, your words do matter here today.
In any event, the next person who is testifying is Mike Morand. He'll be followed by Nancy Stratford and Anne Stanback.
MICHAEL MORAND: Representative Lawlor, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Michael Morand. I reside with my husband, Frank Mitchell, in New Haven.
Like many couples, we cover multiple duties. While I take this personal day to testify, Frank is the breadwinner working in Fairfield.
Today is a special day for us. Eighteen years ago to the day we had our first date, a picnic on Easter Sunday after services. For 18 years we built our life together as a couple, and as contributing citizens.
I work for Connecticut's oldest university, where I also earned a Master of Divinity degree. Frank is a public historian working with public TV, schools, historical societies and museums across the state.
Between us, we've served on the boards of our local land trusts, public library, chamber of commerce, arts councils and others.
We can do that, serve our community, because we support each other and have built a home that is a foundation for us to be active Connecticut citizens.
I've also had the privilege of being a public servant. An alderman for two terms in New Haven, a member of the State Judicial Selection Commission and a justice of the peace.
In that latter capacity, I conducted civil marriage ceremonies, including some where one partner was entering a second, or even third marriage. Isn't it odd?
The State of Connecticut allows me to officiate at the marriage of straight people, even divorced ones, but denies me, and other gay citizens, an equal right to civil marriage.
Thanks to this Committee's leadership, Connecticut has made tremendous progress towards equality through legislation passed in 2005. But the status quo remains. It is separate and it is unequal.
Equality is a fundamental value and, as a legal concept, can never be defined as partial. It is time for our state to complete its work. Equality threatens no one.
The experience of our neighbors to the north is proof that marriage equality does not hurt straight people.
Equality threatens no religion. Frank and I met in church. We were both in church yesterday. I graduated from parochial middle school, Jesuit high school and the Yale Divinity School, and am familiar with Biblical text and tradition.
Moreover, for those who may wish the church to establish state policy, the United Church of Christ, the direct descendant of the founding and established church of our state, has a clear position on gay marriage. It supports it, unequivocally, and enthusiastically.
Everyone wins when equality wins. Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, who it should be noted earned her law degree here in Connecticut, wrote in the opinion of that court, quote, the history of constitutional law is the story of the extension of constitutional rights and protections to people once ignored or excluded.
Like millions of gay Americans, I know what it is like to be ignored and excluded. I felt fear and shame as a kid because I had been born gay. When I came out to a friend at home when I was 19, word spread quickly.
My peers' reaction was swift. I was cut out and cut off by my friends. It took me years, more than a decade, to come out to my parents. I look back on those years as time terribly wasted.
Connecticut has been a good place for Frank and me to make a home because it has been progressive in providing rights and protections. As we mark 18 years together, we urge you to take the next step and to enact full equality. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? If not, thanks, Mike.
MICHAEL MORAND: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Nancy Stratford.
BEN STRATFORD: My name is Ben Stratford. Nancy, my mother, invited me to take her spot in the interest of time. Thank you for your time, Chairman.
Two comments that I would like to make. First, it's been suggested by some of the Senators and Representatives that the issue is in regard to a label or a matter of nomenclature, seeing how the civil union amendment has already been passed and the rights are there, and now it's an issue of a label.
And a label is a big thing in our communities and in our society and I understand that they are seeking something that is very dear to them, and it is dear to those who have that label of a marriage.
I am a single individual and I am against Article 79, 9753, sorry, don't remember the number. But labels are important and to give up, to take something away from people who've had it for a number of years is something very important and I ask that you do that with great thought, if that's what you decide to do.
I am, by profession, a naturopathic physician in the State of New York and medical doctors have prohibited the use of the word doctor by anybody else other than a medical doctor.
And so you see, labels can set you apart and can be discriminatory, and I don't think that extending this label to all is, it should not be done lightly.
A marriage between a man and a woman is, in fact, between a man and woman. That's the way it has been because it is a man and a woman.
The second point is by Connecticut Constitution, Section 2, says all political powers inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit, and they have, at all times, an undeniable and indefeasible right to alter their form of government in such a manner as they may think expedient.
Then, Section 3, the exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination shall forever be free to all persons in the state, provided that the right hereby declared and established shall not be construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or to justify practices inconsistent with peace and safety of the state.
So if you do feel that it is necessary to change this label, as the Judicial Committee or the Representatives and Senators of Connecticut, I believe that it is more the issue of the people deciding that that is the way to go, and that should be a vote to the people of the whole state as regarded here in Section 2, that is inherent in the people, to make that decision. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks very much. Are there questions? If not, thank you, Sir.
BEN STRATFORD: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Anne Stanback, and Ms. Stanback will be followed by William Peck, and then, I think it's William Brewer, but it's the person who signed up for Bruce McDonald, they switched.
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon, Representative Lawlor and Members of the Committee.
Love Makes a Family, the organization of which I'm the executive director, was founded in 1999, to pass important pro-family adoption legislation.
Connecticut's co-parent adoption bill became law in 2000 and at that point we turned our efforts to the issue of marriage.
Our campaign is now entering its seventh year and in that time support for the issue has steadily grown and broadened, resonating from justice, an economic and a personal perspective.
That is why today you will hear testimony in support of Raised House Bill 7395, from same-sex couples, from children raised by same-sex couples and from parents of gay and lesbian children. You will hear from child advocates and labor unions, from clergy and justices of the peace.
You have also received testimony from three of our state's constitutional officers, as well as from the mayors of three of our state's largest cities, Hartford, New Haven and Stamford.
The universality of this issue is why the Hartford Courant, the Journal Enquirer, the New London Day, the Norwich Bulletin, the Meridian Record Journal and the New York Times, have all published editorials urging the Connecticut Legislature to pass a marriage equality bill.
Understanding their state's economic health depends on being able to hire and retain highly skilled, a highly-skilled work force.
The Hartford Business Journal, recently published an editorial where they wrote, it's time that Connecticut showed its progressive, thoughtful side and became the first state in the nation to legislatively endorse gay marriage.
The institution of marriage benefits us as a society. It benefits us as a business organization. It benefits us as a culture but so far, it doesn't benefit us all.
In 2005, this Committee and this Legislature passed a civil union law that conferred critical legal rights to same-sex couples. For those protections and for your leadership, our community is very grateful.
But we worry that the civil union law will be used as an excuse to delay or deny loving, committed same-sex couples the right to marry. We worry about a desire to wait until everyone becomes comfortable.
The truth is, as you've heard today, everyone is not comfortable and some never will be. But discomfort should not be a barrier to equality.
Waiting is not a neutral action. It disadvantages real people in our state. Some simply can't afford to wait.
People are aging. People are seriously ill. In my case, I have an 84-year old father and he wants nothing more than to see me legally married in the eyes of the state to my partner of 23 years.
Some will testify today that you are wasting your time with this bill. That the difference between marriage and civil union is a matter of semantics.
Our response is that either civil union and marriage are the same, and therefore why not grant us the word, or civil union and marriage are not the same, and then what legitimate reason does the state have for withholding the word and the status of civil marriage from committed couples.
We hope that after listening to today's speakers you will conclude that there is no reason for the current exclusion. We hope that when you vote that you will vote for fairness for all Connecticut families. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks very much, Anne. And I'm glad you mentioned how much things have changed. I have been here a long time and we've been watching these events for a long time and it's fascinating, just as a politician, to see the difference, the way that people talk about these issues now, compared to 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago.
Even if you look at the national election, the leading candidates for President in both parties, have a very different view on this issue than have been the case in the past.
So I think you rightfully point out people are thinking about this and changing their minds, and I'm glad you raised that today.
Are there any other questions from Members of the Committee? Yes. Representative Geragosian.
REP. GERAGOSIAN. Good afternoon, Anne.
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Just one point for the record. When we passed civil unions a couple of years ago you maintain your support of marriage and never wavered from it as an organization, or you personally. Is that true?
ANNE STANBACK: Yes. When the marriage bill was still alive in this Committee, we did that when the civil union law passed, we turned our attention to making sure that that bill could be as good a bill as possible.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: But you've always wanted to accomplish marriage.
ANNE STANBACK: Marriage has been and is the mission of Love Makes a Family since we first formed.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And there's been some talk about civil rights today and the issue of separate but equal.
I don't know if you were here earlier, but can you tell me why it matters, as a concept to you, that separate but equal is not appropriate and full marriage rights should be the law of the land.
ANNE STANBACK: I could go on all afternoon, but I won't do that. I think that when our government says that you can treat one group of people differently that that gives permission to other people to do the same, and I think it's important that our government make that statement.
Several people have, on both sides of the issue, have commented on the fact that words matter. They matter to same-sex couples. They matter to our children who understand what marriage means.
And I think the job of the Legislature is to pass laws that conform with the equal protection guarantees in our State Constitution, and that's what this bill would do.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks. Other questions? Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Thank you. And thank you, Anne. Good afternoon. How are you doing?
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon.
REP. WALKER: Could you tell me what the impact of the federal law is on DOMA, right now?
ANNE STANBACK: Actually, this issue of federal rights has come up a number of times, and I think, without marriage, Connecticut families are disadvantaged.
REP. WALKER: Could you speak in the microphone?
ANNE STANBACK: I'm sorry. Without marriage, Connecticut families are disadvantaged when it comes to this federal 1995 law that's referred to as DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. At some point, a law that we believe is unfair and unconstitutional and is going to be overturned.
And without marriage same-sex couples in Connecticut won't be in a position to benefit from the more than a thousand federal rights that heterosexual married couples receive when they marry.
And just, you know, a few examples. I obviously can't list them all but they're important things, like Social Security benefits. Veteran's death benefits. Income tax. Gift tax.
The issue that was referred to earlier about being taxed on our health insurance policies. The ability to sponsor a partner for immigration status and then of course, that broad issue of portability so that marriage in one state, if you travel or move to another state, you are still married, which is what every married couple expects.
REP. WALKER: So basically what you're saying is that once they overthrow, overturn DOMA that all of these impacts are going to negatively, they're going to be directly related to civil union situations and marriage will supercede those.
ANNE STANBACK: Because civil union is a legal concept that only exists in the states of Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey, it is, it does not exist in federal law. So only couples who are married would get access to those federal benefits.
REP. WALKER: Thank you.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Further questions? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: I'm following up on Representative Walker's question. Because my understanding, I guess, would be that if DOMA was stricken, what would be the challenge at that point?
If Connecticut and other states have civil union laws that don't specifically say marriage, and certainly DOMA is restricted to that term, marriage, but if that's overturned, would this just be politically expedient and everything at that point that everybody recognizes, okay, it's no longer a marriage between a man and a woman and, hence, you no longer have the challenge.
ANNE STANBACK: My understanding, Representative Morris, if I'm understanding your question correctly, is that at some point we do believe that that federal DOMA will be overturned.
And at that point same-sex couples who are married in Massachusetts and, hopefully, in Connecticut, would, that the ruling would immediately give those couples access to Social Security, those kinds of benefits.
But, but being in a civil union because the federal government does not recognize that, would not allow those couples to get the federal benefits.
REP. MORRIS: All right. Is it conceivable to assume that anyone who is an opponent of the bill today, their arguments would go away so then, I mean, same-sex marriage, I'm pretty sure, legalized in Connecticut at that point, wouldn't it?
Because my understanding is the federal benefits are the only things that really, a gay couple doesn't, isn't the beneficiary right now.
ANNE STANBACK: You know, those federal benefits are very important, and I don't want to minimize them, but from the beginning, seven years ago, Love Makes a Family was very clear, as have other speakers here today been, that marriage is more than a bundle of rights.
And I think on both sides of this issue, we can agree on that, and that the dignity and respect that come with the word marriage, the universal understanding of the word marriage, are protections in themselves.
And I don't know many married couples who would trade in their marriage for a civil union. I think you'll hear testimony today about confusion because civil union is still a new concept.
And couples, they have gone to hospitals and other places, have, have had lack of clarity and confusion about what is a civil union. Everyone understands what marriage is.
REP. MORRIS: And I understand that. That's why my follow-up was actually a follow-up to Representative Walker's questions because from the very beginning of our hearing today, I made it clear that there are two separate issues that I was looking at here, and that one side was the benefits issue. The benefits argument.
And the other one was the argument as it relates to the label marriage. So again my question really is a follow-up to where you were with Representative Walker because I'm concerned about whether we're putting the cart before the horse. Okay.
ANNE STANBACK: I think that it is--
REP. MORRIS: That it is strictly a benefits question, as it relates to all the benefits you were talking about federally.
ANNE STANBACK: And if your question is, would there be any additional benefits that would immediately confer to same-sex couples should this Legislature pass marriage? No. There will not be. And you know, I think it's a step in the process.
REP. MORRIS: Right. And that's what I wanted to be clear on because as we go through the course of the day and evening we can get muddled there.
So I just wanted to establish again, as far as the benefits piece, we've covered that, although I think there was one question on one issue a little earlier that gave me some concern that was brought up because we do want to make certain that couples who we intended to give those full rights within the state, that they are actually conferred upon them.
So it's just the label issue and I understand that's really a respect issue.
ANNE STANBACK: Yeah. That's the benefit or the harm that's done socially and emotionally is significant as well.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Give me that last piece again.
ANNE STANBACK: That the legal, the legal rights are certainly important but there's a harm other than the lack of those federal legal rights, and I believe that's a social harm by not having, by not being treated equally under our State Constitution.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. And in equal treatment, because we're not talking about benefit anymore, and equal treatment is characterized specifically by what actions?
ANNE STANBACK: By not having access, by not being able to use the vocabulary of marriage. I think that we understand what it means.
Many of us, you know, were brought up expecting that we would be able to marry. And I think the fact that there is an effort to exclude us shows how important this is to, again, to both sides of the issue.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. So inequality is the use of the vocabulary of the language? I think you've got more things.
I can advocate for you just as well, you know, because I've heard a lot of things on the side of your argument, and I try as best as I can to do whatever I can for the gay community and make certain that their rights aren't abrogated.
So with that, I think it's more than what you're saying, and I'm trying to help you out a little here, if I can.
ANNE STANBACK: Well, again, I think that it's the, it's the first step in gaining access to those significant federal rights but it is being able to marry. Being able to call our relationship what it is, a marriage.
Having and being treated the same way as any other couple by our state. That validates us. I think that it sends a message to the thousands of gay youth in this state who, you know, are really looking to this Legislature to say that, that they can look forward to being treated equally under the law and by their state.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Because so far from what I've heard, I haven't heard actual treatment issue, a specific treatment issue so far, other than the use of a term.
The best you're helping me get to is a validation. You're looking for government validation. Is that what I hear you saying?
ANNE STANBACK: We are certainly looking for that but I think, again, going back to the issue that language is important, one of our long-time allies, attorney Morey Murphy, has talked about this issue in terms of gender equality, and when women, there was a time, not that long ago, when women were not commonly lawyers and judges.
If you said, okay, we're going to let women be judges, but we're not going to give them that word judge, we're going to call them deciders of fact, that would, it might not have any concrete difference in the way that they carried out their job, but being able to call oneself a judge, being able to call one's relationship marriage, it matters.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. And I'm going to conclude on this, whether you want it as a statement or a question, I'll leave it to you, because I'm starting to feel safer to feel that what I'm sensing and hearing that this issue, again, really has nothing to do with the benefits, since we cannot confer any additional benefits on you by this legislation, and it's really more so, strictly just the argument about validation by way of a name.
ANNE STANBACK: It is about the benefits. It is certainly true that in the immediate short term, we would not have access to those federal rights because of this federal law called DOMA.
But if we are not allowed to get married, we are not in a position to challenge that federal law and we will not have access to those benefits when that law is overturned.
REP. MORRIS: But that law may not be turned, I'm just saying, we don't know when or if. I know, you feel comfortable that it will be but we really don't know that it will be.
So I'm just trying to hear the strength of, because, I've heard a lot of testimony today about how serious this is, this institution of marriage.
And people coming here to tell us that as a Legislature that we need to be very thoughtful before we choose to become the government to define or re-define an institution.
So that's why my inquiries along these lines about what is it that we're really, that we're really trying to accomplish for the gay community.
And if, right now, the situation is that we will not be able to get one additional federal benefit for you.
And it's primarily the federal benefits that are hurting the gay community, and I think you ought to have those benefits. If I could be the one to give them to you today, I would do it.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. MORRIS: I think it's wrong. I, quite frankly, think as a Legislature we ought to advocate for the gay community to see that, as somehow, civil unions are recognized and that you are afforded those benefits. But since you cannot have that, that doesn't appear to be the argument.
It seems like the argument is really, or the discussion that we're fighting for today, is validation through the name of an institution that many other people feel is historically, sort of been defined, through socially and through faith communities.
So how do you help us as a Legislature to work through that and come up with some rationalization as to why this is inequitable for us not to do that, and that it's something we should do, we should enter upon, and that we have the right to define that.
ANNE STANBACK: I just think that you cannot underestimate the power of words and the power of being treated the same by our state.
That is important to us as couples, it is important to our children. They understand marriage.
And I think you're going to hear from other couples today who have been asked by their children, you know, when did you get married, and they have to say, I'm not married. Married is the word they understand.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. I thank you for your testimony. I'm going to look forward to hearing more because I know there's many more people to testify and we've probably got a long night in front of us, but thank you very much for your testimony.
ANNE STANBACK: Well I feel like I haven't quite gotten your point, and maybe we can continue to dialog.
REP. MORRIS: Right. I look forward to that.
ANNE STANBACK: Good.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for being here, Anne. And I understand the argument, obviously, that there are important social and cultural aspects to the word marriage but I want to zero in on, for a moment, on the legal issues that people have alluded to.
And you've talked a little bit about the federal DOMA legislation. Is it your understanding that every single person who is in a civil union in Connecticut lacks legal standing to challenge the federal DOMA because they are not married in the State of Connecticut?
ANNE STANBACK: That is correct because there is no legal concept of civil union in federal law.
SEN. MCDONALD: Right. So in Massachusetts where same-sex couples are afforded the legal right to marry, those citizens would have an ability today, tomorrow, next year, to potentially challenge the federal discrimination engrafted in DOMA in their courts, in their federal courts based in Massachusetts, but similarly situated citizens in the State of Connecticut would not have the same legal right. Is that correct?
ANNE STANBACK: That is correct. Nor would the couples in Vermont or New Jersey.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. LAWLOR: Representative Bye.
REP. BYE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm going to go at Reverend Morris' point here, Representative Morris, I'm sorry. But do you currently have a civil union?
ANNE STANBACK: No, I do not.
REP. BYE: Can you imagine that you do, for a minute. Okay. Okay. Just pretend. If you ran into an old friend from college, say you were alone and you ran into him and say, what's up with your life.
You know, how would you describe your relationship if you had a civil union, if you saw them. How would you conjugate that? How would you use those words?
ANNE STANBACK: I think that's one of the things about a civil union. There is no verb. I'm unionized. I'm civilly unionized. I'm civilized. We've heard them all.
But it doesn't flow off the tongue easily and, again, I think that people in Connecticut, many people understand what civil union is, but if you aren't from Connecticut, you might not understand what that means.
REP. BYE: Right. Now I have a second part of this question. I have to think a minute here. It seems to have left my, oh, I know.
There are various forms that you fill out in the state, so what happens if you're going for a driver's license? What does that look like if you had a civil union?
ANNE STANBACK: I think on most of the state forms that there is a separate box, married, single, civil union.
But there are many other forms where the only choices are single and married, and I think people end up in the position of having to either deny their committed long-term relationship, or lie about it on a form. So it puts people in a very difficult position.
REP. BYE: Okay. I've seen the form and how it was described was a box next to a party to a civil union. So that was the way--
ANNE STANBACK: Another term that doesn't flow off the tongue very well.
REP. BYE: Right. So I'm just getting at some of what Representative Morris' point was, which was in terms of social acceptance and things like that, the language isn't there for this construct.
ANNE STANBACK: That's right. And, I mean, and I think, you say you're married. That is all you have to say. If I saw someone, you know, from college, I would say I'm in a civil union.
Civil union is a legal institution that was created in the State of Connecticut that gives all the identical rights and benefits but it's, it's not quite a marriage but it has legal protections. It is simply not clear.
REP. BYE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks. Representative Adinolfi.
REP. ADINOLFI: Would, thank you for being here.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you, Sir.
REP. ADINOLFI: Do you think that these forms that are missing the words civil union, would it be against the law to add it, perhaps just haven't caught up.
I know when we went through the legislation, wherever we saw the word married, the way I read the legislation, they put a comma and added civil union.
So I don't think it's actually discriminatory, I think perhaps they haven't caught up, or somebody has to identify it to us, and I'm sure that those forms would be correct.
ANNE STANBACK: I think you're right. I think some of them just haven't caught up.
REP. ADINOLFI: So, I, you know, I just wanted to make that point. The other point I want to make, you mentioned the emotional effects of not having the word, marry, compared to civil union.
Don't you think that that would affect heterosexual couples also when, if everyone is given the definition of marriage that, I know people who have been married over 50 years.
I've been married over 50 years and some of these people have pointed out to me, gee, it's going to make my marriage seem like I'm not natural.
We were made this way. We were made man and woman for a specific purpose and when we signed this contract, whether it be religious or civil, it was made that we were going to agree to take care of each other for the rest of our lives, for better, for worse and everything.
And because we're man and woman, made differently for specific purposes, I assume, that we were given this title.
And the word marriage just happened to be picked. It could have been, picked something else.
But the point I'm trying to make is that, I think the same emotional effect that it could have on homosexual couples, it would have on heterosexual couples where they might feel that they are now being discriminated against by having a man and a man who have been married, or a woman and a woman who have been married.
Probably in the future, it may be go three-way or four way, if we keep on moving in this direction.
I think that we have to consider the emotional effect it has on married couples as defined in our Connecticut statutes.
ANNE STANBACK: And, Representative Adinolfi, I think that there are certainly, speaking from yourself, that there are people who will feel that way.
We are very fortunate in our organization and our movement that we have such strong support from heterosexual couples. Most of our supporters are heterosexual couples.
And I think for many of them, they believe that it will not weaken or insult their marriages but, in fact, it will make their marriage more meaningful.
It will strengthen it because it will be a more equitable institution that excludes no committed couple.
REP. ADINOLFI: I'd love to see a study on that. I don't, my people that I've been talking to in my district, there's no question in my mind, based on the last two elections where this was a major issue, have no question how the consensus would come out. But, thank you, and I appreciate your being here.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Can I just ask one other question, Anne. You were having some discussion about the practical differences of having a status called civil union and a status called marriage and different states have different statuses and things like that.
You know, one of the other bills on the agenda today deals with the question of how Connecticut treats people from other states and other countries who have, same-sex couples who are actually lawfully married where they come from, whether its Massachusetts or Canada or South Africa or Spain, or a bunch of other places, apparently.
I was in Ireland last summer, and in Ireland they have civil unions and the Prime Minister Brattier Hernes said that if it weren't in the constitution about marriage, they'd be passing that in the legislature, too.
They're going about it and this is Ireland, after all. They're amending the constitution over there, apparently.
But, in any event, there are a lot of other places that have a status called marriage for same-sex couples.
And so we don't, and apparently based on the opinion of our Attorney General, if you happen to have that status and be in Connecticut and something happens that would trigger the laws that we have protecting people in civil unions, that may or may not apply to you.
So my question is, since you guys are kind of the clearinghouse for everybody's complaints and suggestions in this department, are you aware of situations where people, sort of foreign marriage, was not respected in Connecticut because it's a legal fiction here, apparently. They are legal strangers. Do you know?
ANNE STANBACK: We have had couples who have talked about that, and I think that that recognition bill, they should at least be granted as many legal protections as someone in a civil union.
REP. LAWLOR: I guess my question is, is it your understanding, based on the experiences of people, let's say it's a same-sex couple out of a lawful Massachusetts marriage and they're driving through Connecticut. They get in an accident and one of them ends up in the emergency room or something like that.
That because Connecticut law says they're legal strangers we don't recognize it at all, whereas if they had a civil union from New Jersey or Vermont, we would recognize that, apparently.
ANNE STANBACK: That's right. They would, if they ended up in the hospital, they would, their marriage would not be recognized, nor would they have a civil union that gave them the rights to visit their partner or make medical decisions.
REP. LAWLOR: So the people from New Hampshire, Vermont, with the civil union, if the same exact set of circumstances, they'd be treated as a spouse here in Connecticut because that's how we treat people in a civil union.
ANNE STANBACK: That's right.
REP. LAWLOR: But yet a marriage from Massachusetts or Canada, they're legal strangers. Right?
ANNE STANBACK: That's correct.
REP. LAWLOR: And that would apply to all the inheritance laws and everything else, apparently, too?
ANNE STANBACK: That's correct.
REP. LAWLOR: And if we change this, if we made this change, it would obviously, the bill itself or the other bill about out-of-state recognition, that certainly would change, if we called it what it was, marriage. Right?
ANNE STANBACK: Absolutely. Yes.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there any further questions? If not, thank you very much.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is William Peck, and Mr. Peck will be followed by, I believe it's William Brown or Brennan, or something like that, and then Stuart Caplan. Good afternoon.
WILLIAM PECK: Chairman and Judicial Committee, compared to what you've heard, I'm a very ordinary sort of person.
I have a wonderful family. Got six children, and every one of them is a loving person. One closely related to my wife and myself and, I'm a veteran of World War II, so I don't understand some of the problems that you've heard about, but I do understand this gentleman back here.
I'm here to say things about the defense of marriage. One man and one woman. I don't hear people talking about that so much.
But it's something where the children have love and respect for one another, and where we get together 15 times in the last years for a family reunion.
My purpose here today is to say I like the marriage that we have now. One man and one woman. And I don't want to take up your time, because you've got good things to talk about, but that's my message. One man and one woman. Defense of marriage.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Peck. Does anyone have any questions for Mr. Peck? Okay. Well, thank you Sir.
WILLIAM PECK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is, it's a cross-out, but it looks like William Brown. Good afternoon.
WILLIAM BROWN: Good afternoon. Thank you very much for opening up the hearings to the public. My name is Bill Brown, I'm from East Hartford, and I know there are many institutional concerns that are being addressed here, but I wanted to come down today because I wanted to express spiritual concerns in the State of Connecticut.
I want to represent that there are many Christians, as I am, in this state, who are Bible believing. The Bible clearly speaks of homosexuality as sin.
It speaks that it is immoral, and, for the record, I believe the, in the Book of Leviticus and in the Book of Romans, it is clearly taught of what the Christians consider Old and New Testament.
And I want to put it out on the table because I feel like sometimes that's avoided. But there are many people in the Connecticut public that do have moral concerns and they feel that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong.
And that doesn't mean that people have some animosity toward homosexuals. I certainly don't. I think the love and grace of mercy, and mercy of God is extended to all. And, I [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 3A to Tape 3B.]
--moral error in that lifestyle, and that it is immoral.
Homosexual sex, homosexual privilege, or homosexual marriage is a moral evil and that we, as citizens of Connecticut, are accountable to God as the revered and respected lady who was here at the very beginning, spoke about this all started back when God created Adam and Eve.
And that is what I'm additionally wanting to address, is that we are created in the image of God, and as one other gentleman expressed, this country was founded on many Christian principles.
And one of those is that our rights come from God. Those rights are inalienable, which is why that we are able to come here to address you today.
The source of our rights is that we are made in the image of God and that no government, nor no group that would control government, should create tyranny, and I have to ask, in regard to rights.
Our whole basis of government in America is contingent upon those rights as given by the Creator. There is no original source of rights in American government which would have been inferred that the Creator and our tradition granted homosexual rights.
And so I thank you very much, but I just want to put it out on the table that many in the public do consider this a moral and grievous error for the government and the state to proceed with.
But that is not to speak, you know, vilify anyone, because I love everyone, whether they're homosexual or heterosexual. But that's my statement.
REP. FOX: Okay. Senator Kissel.
SEN. KISSEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have a hard time with that, and let me tell you why. Because I think the vast majority of my constituents in my district, and they've been pretty good about communicating this to me, are opposed to extending this nomenclature, the word marriage, to folks that are same sex.
Nonetheless though, one of the things that I thought was important from one of the previous speakers, was trying to set aside the opprobrium and the, I don't want to say, necessarily, name calling, but the moralizing about this.
First of all, the founding fathers predicated the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the Constitution on a lot of scholarship that went on for a hundred years before the Revolution, many of which was promulgated in France.
That being said, one of the things that they came up with was separation of church and state.
We don't, we don't live in a state that is governed by any church, and, Mr. Moran, to his great credit, Yalie that he is, pointed out that the Puritan Church then thus evolved into the United Church of Christ, the Congregationalists and, you know, that was our founding church in Connecticut for a number of years that was embraced in the law.
We were a bit of a theocracy and there are, naturally, folks now are in support of this proposal. So a lot of that sort of gets cloudy.
And, clearly, we, as a state, have made a determination that if people are of same-sex relationships, or whatever they want to do sexually, to be very honest, behind closed doors, that's allowed in this state.
And we passed laws regarding adoption. We passed laws regarding giving of rights, and we passed laws regarding civil unions.
So I have a hard time in that what is it about the title of marriage, leaving aside, and I appreciate your coming at this from a spiritual, moral perspective, and that's on the record and that's your viewpoint, but let's set all that aside.
If we've gone this far as a state, passing the laws that we have, since Love Makes a Family rallied the troops and got this going down the road, which some of us saw coming down the road, but what is it now?
Because part of what my concern was, despite the fact that I know where my constituents are coming from, I also have a concern that the horse is out of the barn.
That in a court of law it would be very difficult if one has the laundry list of statutory rights that we created in the last couple of years with the civil unions, but now the last piece of the puzzle, aside from the federal standing to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which they're very clear that that's what they want to do.
They want to attack that, that federal law, and people may want to help them to do that or not help them to do that.
But let's set that aside. What's left? And I think that Representative Morris was questioning here, has really elucidated this and my colleagues, by saying, there really is no more state benefits that we can give.
So it's that imprimatur that sort of, that name, that, hate to say blessing, but, that name that rolls off the tongue, we're married.
And so, what is it about making that last step that you really don't feel that we should do. And I'm not saying I agree or disagree, but I'm saying, what is it specific to that very narrow issue, knowing that folks that are pursuing that and that love one another, that are same sex, that that's all okay in our state.
We're not discussing that. But what about the name marriage that you really don't agree with.
WILLIAM BROWN: Well I think some people, using your analogy, some people would like you to get that horse back in the barn.
Because, as you said, it's out of the barn, but there are a lot of folks in Connecticut who feel that the matter of civil unions did not go to public referendum, and we feel that it was in error, and so, to put the icing on the cake, certainly, you know, is our problem.
We don't want it to proceed any further. And you're saying, well, why don't we just go ahead and we're saying, people of Christian conviction, are saying that it has been an error to let the horse out of the barn.
SEN. KISSEL: Well I appreciate that. It's succinct. That's to the point. When I say that that's what I'm putting forward, I'm saying that that's what I sort of see as the very narrow issue before us.
Clearly, I indicated that my district, I think a vast majority of my district, do not feel that we should make this next step and extend the terminology.
But I think that the arguments are, are very focused right now, and I think that folks on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the issue, have strong cases. But I appreciate where you're coming from on the issue and I understand. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
REP. FOX: Thank you, Senator. Are there questions from Members of the Committee? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Following up on Senator Kissel's line of questioning, if I could use the same term, since the horse is out of the barn. You said you came to speak from a spiritual, moral lens.
The term marriage then, what does that mean to you, as a Christian? Is there anything that you own as a Christian in relation to that term that gives you, gives you heartburn for anyone else to have that term? Terminology as described.
WILLIAM BROWN: Well, certainly the Christian church recognizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. The word sanctity goes to the root of cleanliness.
But at the same time, the church recognizes the government's right to pronounce marriage, and that there are two distinct aspects of marriage, which are joined.
Because, as a typical, you might consider that a pastor would want to recognize whether a person was actually married by the justice of the peace. There shouldn't be anything vague.
And as you said, Senator Kissel, I think you mentioned something about separation of church and state, or was spoken here before, that's true. And good-standing Christians recognize that and they want to preserve that.
But the state does have an authority to marry. It's not just an ambiguous spiritual thing. On the church side, there is a sense of spiritual purity in marriage.
And homosexuality is a defilement of that concept because that concept from a Christian tradition, as someone said, comes from people made in the image of God and God, as revealed in the Jewish scriptures, has declared certain things to be good or evil, clean or unclean, etc., etc.
That there is a right way and a wrong way. But in our culture today, people want to completely dismiss that. The only thing they want to be sure of is that no one judges anyone, no one says their way is right.
But, you know, many people have the conviction, like myself, in the State of Connecticut, that there is a rightness to these matters, and that marriage, you're saying what do we own that's in marriage? Well, you know, marriage is, as I said, somebody should be sanctified.
We don't, you know, if the state, the state should pronounce marriage, but at the same time, the state is responsible to God.
Someone says, well, the church is separate from the state but, you know, in the Biblical concept, which was involved with the founding fathers, you, as members of this hearing, you are accountable to God.
You are not members who are just purely of a secular state. The Soviet Union created a secular state, but America has always been a country that recognized God as our source of our freedoms. You can't divorce yourself from that.
REP. MORRIS: I thank you for your testimony today. Thank you.
REP. FOX: Any other questions? Representative Geragosian.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I can't let that go without a comment, and I'm a civil leader. I'm not a religious leader, and if you're looking for a religious remedy, you're in the wrong building, Sir.
I take my oath to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, and I believe this is a right that should be afforded under those Constitutions.
So having said that, you talked about a referendum. You think you should have had a referendum on this issue. Is that true?
WILLIAM BROWN: A referendum, publicly?
REP. GERAGOSIAN: On civil unions, on gay marriage. You think it should be--
WILLIAM BROWN: Yes. Yes. We would have liked to have had that. Yes.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Do you think the civil rights laws of the 1960's should have been put up for referendum?
WILLIAM BROWN: Are you saying, I think that the public should have a say in the matter because, just as the woman said from Canada, laws regarding homosexual marriage were instituted and now, even though the majority of the people do not believe that that should have happened, they've been boxed out of the equation. And that's why people want a public referendum.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Do you think the southern states should have been able to vote to keep slavery? To vote against the civil rights laws of their states? By public referendum.
WILLIAM BROWN: That's a good question. I will say this. That racism is immoral but homosexuality is also immoral. Therefore, my answer would be no, they should not have had a referendum because what they would have opposed was immoral.
In this case, there should be a referendum because I think the majority of the Connecticut public would find it to be immoral to establish homosexual marriage.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And you're aware that this law in no way requires any church to recognize any of these unions, or perform these unions?
WILLIAM BROWN: Well, there again, the Christian public feels that the government is not a free-standing institution.
Even though religious people should not be giving dictates through government, as members of the government, you are just as accountable to God as, you know, anyone in the public. That God cannot be excluded from this equation.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Well, we talk about the issues of morality, and this is where you lose me because, you know, there are a lot of things going on in this country and this world right now that are immoral.
WILLIAM BROWN: That's true.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: But I've only seen, well, some folks here on these very limited issues. There's a war where thousands of people have died, yet I don't hear talk about that.
There are children starving all over the world. There is genocide going on in the world. Yet, this is, we hear about these very limited issues here, and--
WILLIAM BROWN: Is not Christian charity one of the greatest charities coming out of the United States for those that are poor and starving? Is not the issue of the Sudan?
Is that not of a source of Christian advocates that are seeking to stop that war? I mean, there have been quite a number of Christian public advocates that have addressed those very things.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I don't see rooms filled to the level they are on those issues here.
WILLIAM BROWN: Well, that may be true.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Yes.
WILLIAM BROWN: But here I'm just addressing, you know, the fact that government is accountable to God.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Likewise. I mean, an issue that we take up all the time, is an issue, like the death penalty, which the Christian community says they're opposed to.
But I've never seen a room filled to these levels on the issue of the death penalty, opposing the death penalty, which is the Christian tenant, as I was taught. So, well, I thank you for your testimony, Sir.
REP. FOX: Are there any other questions? Oh, I'm sorry. Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: Based on what you've said, you think an atheist should not serve in this, in this building?
WILLIAM BROWN: Should not serve?
SEN. GOMES: Or should not run for office, or should not seek public office, or it is not his right to seek public office?
WILLIAM BROWN: I think in historic American virtues, I think our old motto, God, Country, Family, was the core of the greatness of this country, and I believe that people should be free.
If they want to be an atheist, they have complete freedom. Which is what I love about America. People have freedom, no matter they want to believe in a homosexual lifestyle or be an atheist, or Buddhist, or Christian or whatever they want.
But the question is where did those freedoms come from? And what you're saying is, should an atheist hold public office?
I would be inclined to believe, personally, that I think that would be an undermining of the source of our liberties, because in this country, our liberties originally were founded on that concept, which was, they are inalienable, they come from the Creator.
That's where our freedoms came from, and our tradition, our government tradition, and if you remove that, if you remove that concept of God from government, that doesn't mean religious people should be prescribing anything through government, it's just a simple respect, in God we trust. If you destroy that, then you've destroyed what America is about.
SEN. GOMES: Therefore, an atheist should not enjoy any of those freedoms that you talk about.
WILLIAM BROWN: I didn't say that.
SEN. GOMES: Sounds like it.
WILLIAM BROWN: I said a person should be free to be an atheist. But the question is, is whether they should be granted public office. That's a totally different question.
SEN. GOMES: You don't feel they should be granted public office.
WILLIAM BROWN: No, I don't.
SEN. GOMES: Thank you.
REP. FOX: Any other questions? Senator Coleman.
SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you, Representative Fox. I was listening to your testimony, and I seem to, correct me if I'm wrong, I seem to understand your testimony to be that because the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, that gay and lesbian individuals should not be accorded the right to marry. Do I understand?
WILLIAM BROWN: Yes. That's correct.
SEN. COLEMAN: And not saying whether I agree or disagree with your suggestion on this matter, but it does confuse me a bit.
Can you help reconcile for me whether or not you feel that someone who kills another individual should be afforded the right to marry, or someone who commits adultery should be afforded the right to marry?
WILLIAM BROWN: Well, first of all, they would have to be married in order to commit adultery. Is that correct? Are you taking from the presumption that they had been married?
SEN. COLEMAN: Not necessarily. As I understand, first of all, most important to my question, I guess is, adultery is a sin. Do you agree with that?
WILLIAM BROWN: Yes.
SEN. COLEMAN: And according to my understanding of adultery, one who is not married but had sexual intercourse with someone who is married, is committing adultery.
WILLIAM BROWN: No. I believe it's only the person who has a marriage covenant, who breaks it by having sexual relationships, relationship, with a person outside that covenant of marriage.
The person who is not married to them would be considered, by Biblical terms, a fornicator, but not an adulterer. An adulterer--
SEN. COLEMAN: We may disagree on the definition of adultery, but be that as it may, if one, according to your definition, has been married and commits adultery, somehow or another terminates that marriage and marries again?
WILLIAM BROWN: No. That's not. The Bible teaches that if someone commits adultery and violates the covenant of marriage, the Bible, God, through the Holy Scriptures, asks the person who is the faithful partner to grant forgiveness to that person and allow them to return to the marriage.
That's very hard to do, but that's something clearly taught in the Scriptures that adultery is something that the person can be restored from adultery.
SEN. COLEMAN: By the forgiveness of the forgiving partner?
WILLIAM BROWN: Yes. That's correct.
SEN. COLEMAN: Okay. And suppose that partner doesn't forgive?
WILLIAM BROWN: And then what would be the question?
SEN. COLEMAN: The question would be, if that marriage terminates, is the, the person who has had another relationship outside the marital relationship, is that person an adulterer?
WILLIAM BROWN: Are they in adultery when they are committing, this is becoming a little fuzzy to me.
SEN. COLEMAN: For the purpose of the question, let's just say, yes. And to get to the important part of the question, I'm asking you to help me reconcile if adultery is a sin, does a person who commits adultery, should that person not be afforded the right to marry?
WILLIAM BROWN: In its, if you look at the Bible as the source of law for marriage, because it was originally given by God, in the record of the Bible, marriage was not created by a government institution. It was created by God between Adam and Eve, and then it was conferred upon government to supervise it, as an institution.
Therefore, in its original concept, marriage, you're right, a marriage is pertaining to the faithful, not to the unfaithful.
SEN. COLEMAN: But that's not my question, Sir. My question is, you've apparently asserted, and I'm not trying to be contentious.
WILLIAM BROWN: That's okay.
SEN. COLEMAN: Just get your assistance in helping me reconcile exactly where it is that you're coming from, because what I'm observing is that you've identified homosexuality as being a sin, according to the Bible.
WILLIAM BROWN: Yes.
SEN. COLEMAN: And you apparently are saying that anyone who commits such a sin should not be permitted to marry, and I'm saying, if that is a sin, there are other sins, adultery being one of them, I guess people who lie are committing a sin, people who kill people are committing a sin.
Please help me to reconcile whether or not you feel that people who fall into those other categories should also not be permitted to be married?
WILLIAM BROWN: In the matter of adultery, I think the Bible would say, no, they should not be permitted to re-marry because they have not restored their first covenant, therefore, they are unfaithful and not responsible. Is that what you're asking me?
SEN. COLEMAN: It's one of the things.
WILLIAM BROWN: And then there's the liar. Now, a person who lies? No. I don't think that that would have that, that gravity.
There are certain things that have gravity, and as this Representative spoke today. He's never seen such an outpouring of the public. Because this is striking at a nerve in the Connecticut public, and that's why I'm very thankful that you have us here today.
But in, you know, if a person lies or he steals, are you saying that he should not be permitted to marry? I don't think so.
But from a Biblical point of view, if a person commits adultery, then the new marriage is not going to be sanctified by God.
But you're saying as a government institution, should you get that far involved in it? And I would just say, from the Christian, from the origin of the Biblical truth, marriage was started by God, not by man, nor by government, but God has put you in charge to preserve marriage as a good thing in the culture.
But if you allow people to destroy marriage, then you are responsible for what will come. And some of you have asked, what will result if we alter our meaning of marriage. And I'm simply here to tell you that terrible things will result.
My wife was just telling me about a woman who went to Australia, which was in the news and you could probably Google it or something, but she went there to marry a dolphin.
And the trainer said, okay, fine, we'll have the marriage between you and the dolphin. We'll have marriage between brothers and sisters. We'll have marriage between five parties. We'll have marriage between four bi-sexuals.
I mean, it becomes so loose that you, as the government officials, are failing to preserve the soundness of our culture, our government and our nation, if you permit marriage to be dissolved in such obscene ways.
SEN. COLEMAN: Well I guess I should thank you for, I don't know if you've made any effort to help me to reconcile the issue that I'm wrestling with, but I guess I would share the view of my colleagues and say that, I haven't seen on the issue of some of the other sins, like killing someone.
I haven't seen people coming to the State Capitol advocating that such people should not be permitted to marry, nor on the issue of adultery or any other behavior that would be considered a sin.
And I'm not, I am simply not able to reconcile why it is that those people that are opposed to same-sex marriage and read the Bible and interpret the Bible as identifying homosexuality as a sin would come to the Capitol in such great numbers and advocate against gay and lesbian individuals being afforded the right to be married. Thank you for your effort anyway, Sir.
REP. FOX: Thank you, Senator. Any other questions from Members of the Committee? Hearing none.
WILLIAM BROWN: Thank you very much.
REP. FOX: Next we have Stuart Caplan, followed by Pastor James Lilly. Good afternoon, Sir.
STUART CAPLAN: Good afternoon. My name is Stuart Caplan. I'm an attorney with the office of Neil Crane, and I'm here in support of Committee House Bill 6070, dealing with the repossession of vehicles after Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
REP. FOX: We've been waiting for you, Sir. Thank you.
STUART CAPLAN: I realize I'm in the minority here in this room today.
REP. FOX: We've got a lot of questions ready for you.
STUART CAPLAN: No dolphins. We're talking about people here that are in financial distress. They are not sophisticated borrowers. They have gone and obtained automobile loans.
For one reason or another, have been forced to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and following the filing of that petition, even though they are current with their automobile loans, their vehicles are getting repossessed. And the only basis for that repossession is the fact that they have filed this Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
These people are in dire straights at that time. They are willing to re-affirm these debts out of fear of losing their vehicle so that they will not be able to get to work. They will not be able to obtain a replacement vehicle.
Most of these vehicles and these loans at the time that these people do file bankruptcy, and we have reviewed the various petitions that come through our office, are, in fact, under water. There is no equity for these car loans.
We have one example right now in our office where the car is worth $13,000 and the automobile company wanted them to re-affirm at $30,000 debt on that vehicle.
If they were to do that, and then have further financial difficulties, the car company would repossess that vehicle, they would then seek a deficiency from that vehicle and either seek to foreclose on their home, if there is a home. They could put a lien on it, or seek to attach their wages.
In fact, prior to coming here today, this morning, we were contacted by someone who filed a bankruptcy petition through another office, re-affirmed their car loan, were still in financial trouble, the vehicle has been repossessed and the car company is now attaching their wages.
As a result of that attachment, they are losing their home. And they do not have protections afforded by the bankruptcy and afforded by them filing the Chapter 7 to try to get a fresh start and reinstate their financial life.
Therefore, we believe that the debtor's vehicle should not be repossessed simply because they filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
In addition, we would also support Section 1 of the proposed bill dealing with late charges and other penalties. Our position is, however, that that does not go far enough.
In a mortgage context, we have substantial number of payoffs that we request in our office and get that contain charges that cannot be explained.
While they may not rise to the level of double of the debt, they are still substantial in nature and could prevent a sale of a home, could prevent some money coming to this borrower to re-start their financial life.
These charges, in some cases, go unexplained. In some cases, we get subsequent payoffs that do not contain those charges, or contain additional charges.
The problem is, there is no utility or tool in the legislation that we have today that permits you to penalize these companies for failing to give these explanations or failing to justify the charges that they have included. Thank you.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Are there any questions for Attorney Caplan? Well, thank you for sitting through everything else today.
STUART CAPLAN: I can assure you, there have been a number of people discussing this bill, and it is getting a lot of interest even though today it may not seem that way. It is being discussed. I can assure you.
REP. FOX: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. Next is Pastor James Lilly, followed by Representative Hetherington. You're not Pastor Lilly. He has left. Representative Hetherington, followed by Reverend Charles Hudson. Good afternoon.
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Good afternoon. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee, for giving me the opportunity.
My remarks are really quite brief, but I thought I would interject something a little more exciting here for you today, so I wanted to speak on Committee House Bill 6070, which is the RECOVERY OF EXCESSIVE LATE FEES IN CONSUMER TRANSACTIONS.
So actually, I do think that this is an important issue to consumers, and I appreciate the Committee raising this bill.
I would like to address the part of it that simply addresses late fees in consumer transactions. It does not get into the question of default by someone owning a car, subject to a lien.
Currently, a creditor in a consumer credit transaction may bill any amount as a late fee, and the late fee, I have seen actual instances of this. The late fee may exceed the amount owing, plus any accumulated interest.
And I believe this should be, this injustice, should be redressed. The bill that I support would recognize the fact that many of these consumer transactions in fact take place in interstate commerce, and that we may not have the opportunity to regulate the lender.
However, what this bill simply does is to close Connecticut courts to any action to recovery, to recover, those late fees. So that we are not actually trying to regulate the lender.
We can't do that. That's beyond our jurisdiction, but we can say if you're going to try to come into Connecticut and try to recover late fees, they cannot exceed the amount actually owing.
I think it's a moderate approach. It respects jurisdictional lines. At the same time, it will send an important message on behalf of consumers that this is an abuse that is not welcome here in Connecticut. I thank you.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Are there any questions? Representative Spallone.
REP. SPALLONE: Thank you. Thank you, Representative Hetherington. When you said that we can't regulate the lenders in these matters, does that mean that we cannot regulate, say, the issue of excessive interest, that we couldn't cap the interest on credit cards or automobile loans or something like that? That's exclusively within the province of the federal government?
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Well, I would think that we would have difficulty. I wish we could. But I am troubled by the fact that many of those lenders are, for example, major banks that do business all over the country, and it would be hard for us as one state to regulate them.
But I suppose that we could expand this concept to prevent the recovery of excessive rates of interest in any Connecticut court, and I would certainly support that. But at least I think this is a good first step.
REP. SPALLONE: And that, actually, thank you, Representative, for anticipating my question, because I was going to ask whether this jurisdictional approach could help us to rein in some of these other abusive practices in the absence of federal leadership on the issue. Thank you.
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: I hope so. Thank you.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Representative Tong.
REP. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative Hetherington, I just wanted to thank you very much for your leadership on this issue.
I'm proud to co-sponsor this bill with you and I'm proud to represent the Town of New Canaan with you, so thank you so much for testifying.
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Thank you very much.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Representative O'Neill.
REP. O'NEILL: Yes. I was just wondering. Many times a piece of legislation has a story that starts it out. There is some experience that people have. Is there any particular reason why this is being proposed right now?
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Well, Representative O'Neill, to tell you the truth, my wife got a bill, and it was for like $7, and there was a $35 late charge, and I thought this is really a bad way to treat consumers.
So I asked around and found my constituents saying, yeah, that's true. We get bills from credit card companies or from retailers, and they do include these excessive late fees.
SEN. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Thank you.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Any other questions for Representative Hetherington? Thank you.
REP. JOHN HETHERINGTON: Thank you.
REP. FOX: Next we have Reverend Charles Hudson, followed by Brian Brown. Good afternoon, Reverend.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Good afternoon. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, my name is Reverend Charles Hudson. I'm the pastor of the New Covenant CME Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
I don't have any statistics, but I do come just to mention to you that this question of same-sex unions has yet again found a way to further divide our communities and steal our focus away from the real issues of life, which are all of our responsibilities.
That is, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for our sick and promote healthy living for all mankind. Not just who has the right to sleep with whom. Not just who has the right to love whom.
But we are commanded to love one another. We have turned this into a no-man's land existence, attempting to operate somewhere between right and wrong. There is no in-between. There is no gray area. There is only right or wrong.
This question has made us indolent, inept and completely self-centered in dealing with the natural process of what is.
Natural, like right, does not promote disorder. Natural, like right, does not divide. Natural, like right, does not take us out of the pre-existing innate process of what God has ordained in man and woman.
And whether we subscribe to the theory that God is, or not, and if we were to be completely honest with ourselves we might recognize the mass hysteria and confusion generated by those who simply purport to love. It is not of God. For God is love, and not the author of confusion.
So I come to remind us all that we are loved beyond measure. No matter what we do or the choices we make in life, we are loved without condition.
But this does not give us the right to take the freedom, that we as a people enjoy and change it to fit ourselves, forcing everyone to conform to what goes against the inbred righteousness of God's spirit in us all, because we cannot figure out who we are.
It has been tried with devastating results, and we all will be held accountable for what we have allowed to further corrupt and tear away from the very fabric of God's law for our own self-centered desires.
This question is not a question of life but rather a tactic of annihilation. And if our elected officials will not protect the sanctity of morality without becoming conformists themselves, then do not be shocked with the further decay of our society, which will undulate across every home throughout this world as a tornado dancing across the open plains of our western states.
So I come to tell you that this is our responsibility. That we look deeper than what we think things ought to be. And I am in opposition to same-sex unions.
REP. FOX: Thank you, Reverend Hudson. Any questions? Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Yes. Good afternoon. Good afternoon, Sir. Thank you for coming to testify. I hear you. I hear what you're saying.
But I guess I'm concerned because had we taken the literal definition of the way Christian religion was dictated to us, I don't think you and I would be sitting here at that time, at this time.
At that time, slavery was accepted. At that time, women were not held in the same esteem as men. In fact, women were veiled and they were not allowed to be seen.
So what we've done is, we've evolved, I think, as a culture, and I think we've evolved in our interpretation of the Bible, because the Bible is an interpretation, and I think we all sort of accept that and understand it.
So I think what we're debating today is not what are the moral foundations. I think what we're debating is how do we allow everyone to live in this world equally and make sure that everybody lives equally.
And I'm so thankful that no one ever stopped and said because it wasn't a definition in the Bible, that a black woman could not hold an elected office. So I hope that it's okay for us to disagree.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes, it is.
REP. WALKER: And I hope that it's okay for us to have different religious views. My father is a minister, and he and I have talked about this ad nauseum, and his belief is that we are all God's children.
And that we all have that right to live on this planet. But there is no moral division in our choices. It's just the fact that we have choices.
So I, I guess in my heart, I hope that you can understand my belief, and that I'm having a hard time understanding how you would equate it with immorality.
That's what, I guess, what I'm trying to say is, I'm questioning your definition of immorality in this regard.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Immorality would be defined as anything that goes against the will of God. You, we want to look at things the way we want to look at them, and you are simply, you are absolutely right.
The Bible is an interpretation. But there is an interpretation that goes much deeper than what we want.
And I would be amiss to sit here and tell you that I understand it wholeheartedly, because I don't.
The best I can do is to consistently and constantly pray that God would give us the wisdom to make the right choices, and that is simply what I am saying to you all today.
To allow yourselves the opportunity to make the right choices, regardless of what you feel everyone else wants. That's what I'm saying.
REP. WALKER: You do realize that at one point it was wrong to have inter-religious marriages. Correct?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes, I do.
REP. WALKER: And it was wrong to have inter-racial marriages?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes, I do.
REP. WALKER: And we evolved from that.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes, we have.
REP. WALKER: Why would we have evolved from that? Why did we evolve from that?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Because that's the direction that we decided that we wanted to go in. To be equal, to be considered the norm as far as everyone else is concerned. But how can you define what's normal for me. I can't define what's normal for you.
REP. WALKER: I guess that's what I was looking for. Thank you, Sir.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: You're welcome.
REP. FOX: Thank you. Are there any other questions from Members of the Committee? Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: I'm sorry. I missed a lot of the testimony, so I'm kind of catching up on the end of this. But I want to see if I've got this in the right context. I'm trying to follow-up on the conversation between you and Representative Walker.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: And you may not have the answer, but I'm going to ask the question.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: And I'll tell you if I don't know if I don't.
REP. MORRIS: Are you Christian?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes, I am.
REP. MORRIS: Within Christianity, not Judaism, not Old Testament Judaism, within Christianity, was there ever segregation of race or culture in marriage?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Was there ever a segregation of race or culture?
REP. MORRIS: Yes. In other words, for Christians. For Christians, as a basic theology, in Christian theology, is there anything in Christian theology that says two people, whether it's inter-racial, inter-cultural, or whatever, that you couldn't marry?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: That question, Sir, is really a trick question.
REP. MORRIS: It wasn't intended. Maybe I asked it wrong.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: I understand. But what we have to understand that even at the inception of Christianity, the times, and the times have changed throughout the years, throughout the centuries.
And as the times have changed, we've had to, I'm not going to say conform, but we've had to redefine in certain areas what the true intent of God's will is for His people.
REP. MORRIS: So in that line, and that's what I'm trying to make certain, that what you're representing is clear for all of us here.
So trust me, what I was asking is not a, it's not a trick question. It's making certain that we're clear because I think some of the questioning that we're giving you, maybe in a secular context.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: I understand.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. The secular context of what may have happened historically in the United States of America. Okay. They may have considered itself a Christian country, however, that's why I'm asking.
Despite that history, from a Christian perspective, a theological perspective strictly, not history, what happened? Is there anything Christianity says two people of two people races can't get married?
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: No.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. That was my point. Okay. Because I think the line of questioning, I think, may have led us to believe that somehow you might have thought that that was okay at some point.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: No.
REP. MORRIS: And I wanted to make certain that everyone's clear that that isn't what you believe in or advocate.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Yes.
REP. FOX: Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much.
REV. CHARLES HUDSON: Thank you.
REP. FOX: Next is Brian Brown, followed by Captain Amy Pear. Good afternoon, Mr. Brown.
BRIAN BROWN: Good afternoon. Mr. Chairman, all the Members of the Judiciary Committee. Thanks for having me.
My name is Brian Brown, Executive Director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to encouraging and strengthening Connecticut's families, located here in Hartford.
I'm here today to publicly oppose both Raised Senate Bill 1449 and Raised House Bill 7395. I will focus on 7395.
In recent elections, we've seen the continuing trend of states across the country affirming the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In the face of a Massachusetts court decision that forced same-sex marriage on our northern neighbor, without the consent of the people, citizens across this country stood up to affirm one of the basic tenants of a representative government.
Even in Massachusetts, the first step to allowing a direct vote has now been taken. Just a few short months ago, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed the first of two required votes to let the people vote directly on the definition of marriage.
Just as in Massachusetts, the people of Connecticut have the right for their voice to be heard. State constitutional amendments protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman have passed time and again when put to a vote-- [End of Tape 3B, changing to Tape 4A.]
--by 57%. The case of Oregon is particularly instructive for Connecticut.
Connecticut is, if anything, in a roughly analogous position to Oregon. And like Oregon, if the people had the chance, they would vote to protect marriage.
Democrats and Republicans, suburbanites and city dwellers, African-Americans, Hispanic and white Americans, the majority of all these major groups, in America, agree that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
In the past few years, the Family Institute has continued to receive petition signatures of Connecticut residents opposed to same-sex marriage.
To date, over 100,000 Connecticut residents have signed the Connecticut Defense of Marriage Petition, making it one of the largest petition drives in state history.
Last year, a Harris interactive poll showed that 57% of state residents opposed same-sex marriage. More recently, a more ambiguously-worded UConn poll, still found that over 55% of residents opposed same-sex marriage.
And why do people know that marriage is the union of one man and one woman? They do so for many reasons, but one of the most important is the simple truth that children do best with both a mother and a father. Maggie Gallagher spoke very eloquently on this.
Connecticut is facing an impending court decision that could itself bring same-sex marriage to our state.
Why are we having a hearing on a bill that will itself radically redefine marriage and not one that will allow the people a vote?
What sort of message of fairness does this send to the majority of state residents who oppose same-sex marriage?
Ultimately, Connecticut needs a State Constitutional Amendment protecting marriage if the people, and not the courts, are to decide the future of marriage.
A constitutional amendment will allow the people a direct vote on the future of marriage. But given the time requirements of passing a state constitutional amendment a first step would be simply to allow a non-binding referendum on same-sex marriage.
Some say that the numbers opposing same-sex marriage are inflated. Let's at least have a free and fair vote on the part of the people. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. You were talking about polls and you referenced the UConn poll, and I just pulled it up on the miracle of the internet here, and it, the UConn poll indicated that 74% of Connecticut residents supported civil unions in Connecticut.
And as I recall, our prior experience on the debate on civil unions, the Family Institute of Connecticut was deeply opposed to it.
So I'm just trying to figure out how you square your testimony today about what polls say with your, with the prior position of the Family Institute on civil unions when 74% of Connecticut residents appear to support that.
BRIAN BROWN: Well if you look at the poll itself, what it asks is, do you oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions. It's very ambiguously worded. It doesn't ask a flat-out question on same-sex marriage.
And then the second question is, do you oppose same-sex marriage, but oppose any recognition of same-sex couples. Right there, the wording is very ambiguous, but even with that wording, 55% agree that they oppose same-sex marriage.
Now some portion of those, I believe, 33%, say we will accept civil unions. But as you well know, when civil unions was brought up many people accepted civil unions viewing it as a compromise that would sort of end this, or at least stall this debate.
Plenty of people said that, well, I'm voting for this because I believe that this will answer many of the issues being brought by same-sex couples.
We said at the time that this will not end it. They will be back and it will be relatively soon, and two years later, it's no longer about benefits, rights and privileges, it's about the definition of marriage.
So I believe we were right in that. We haven't changed our position at all, but now we're at the point of taking the last step. The last step being, let's say that marriage means love makes marriage.
Love makes a family. I decide that I love a person of my same sex, therefore the state has to recognize that. This is not a recipe for protecting marriage.
Marriage is not simply based upon what two individuals want. There has to be some public meaning or some public good to marriage.
And the public good of marriage is based upon the complementary of male and female, on the fact that mothers and fathers are both needed for children, and that's why marriage has a unique and special place in our law. We want to keep that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, so, focusing on, will you acknowledge at least that there is a distinction between the religious components of marriage and the civil contract of marriage under state law?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, again, this whole idea of religious marriage and civil marriage as being two completely distinct and separate things is not accurate. I think it's much deeper than this.
What happens is the state regulates marriage. People in religious communities get married. The state regulates those marriages. But the state itself doesn't say, okay, here's religious marriage, here's civil marriage.
There's one thing. There's marriage. The state's regulating marriage. Now people can do whatever they want. If they want to go into a church and say they want to marry four people. They can do that in a church, but the state's not going to recognize it.
The state recognizes, currently, that marriage in the State of Connecticut is the union of one man and one woman. That's what marriage is in the State of Connecticut.
So I think that this idea that marriage is two separate things takes away from the idea that marriage has a public purpose and that marriage is something that if it is changed, it is not simply changed for a small group of people. It is changed for everyone.
If we change the definition of marriage, all of the public policy organs of the state, in education, in accreditation, it needs to change everywhere.
So for example, children will be taught in the schools that it's same thing, if you're a boy, it's the same thing for you to grow up to marry a man as it is to marry a woman. There's absolutely no difference.
At least currently, in our law, marriage still has some distinction. There's some place that it has in our law where the entire force and power of the state cannot say, well, no, these are the exact same thing. So I think that it's important to keep that unique place of marriage. That status of marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, but, even if this bill were to become law, nobody is suggesting, correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody is suggesting that any religious faith tradition would be required to accept gay marriages as part of their religious faith tradition. Isn't that correct?
BRIAN BROWN: It is correct, but that does not mean that there aren't serious religious liberty implications to passing same-sex marriage.
For example, in Massachusetts, the Catholic Charities who were adopting out some of the most needy children, those children that it was most difficult to place, because the Catholic Church believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and would not place kids in same-sex households, they were told by the state, basically, you're not welcome here. Get out. They can no longer adopt out children in Massachusetts. This is a great travesty.
And many of the people that spoke up today, have accepted that this is good. I've talked to proponents of same-sex marriage. They say, well, the church doesn't have any right to its religious beliefs.
If it's going to put children up for adoption, then it has to accept what the state says marriage is. That will happen time and time again.
There are things that we haven't even conceived of that there is going to be a train wreck between religious liberty and the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil right.
And this isn't just from the right of the political spectrum. Peter Steinfield has written in the New York Times, the same thing. There is a coming clash between these two views, and it's happening time and time again.
The example of David Parker, whose son is in a grade school class and his son is being taught, and read to from books, that basically say just what I said.
It's the same thing for you to grow up and marry a man as it is to marry a woman. That, our curriculum, everything will have to change.
It isn't just going to affect the people who want to enter into same-sex marriage. And I think that's really what the debate's about.
We're talking about changing the definition for anyone. We're no longer simply talking about, even in our public rhetoric, about rights, benefits and privileges.
SEN. MCDONALD: My recollection of the Family Institute's position back in 2005 was that civil unions were just marriage by another name. Is that correct?
BRIAN BROWN: But the name is important.
SEN. MCDONALD: But that was the position.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So, now we're in a position where we have civil unions and, at least according to the UConn poll and I'm now looking at the Quinnipiac poll, the vast majority of Connecticut residents are supportive of the concept of civil unions.
So if civil unions are just marriage by another name, why is it that that last part, the name marriage, has any added dimension to it from a civil, legal perspective?
Not a religious perspective, but a civil, legal perspective as a compilation of legal rights and obligations under state law.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, the name is critical. I mean, we've heard today, people arguing that the reason we need same-sex marriage is because we want to sue the federal government.
So even proponents of same-sex marriage realize the name's critical because if the name is conveyed so, too, is the status. And if the status is conveyed, then we know what's going to happen.
It not only will affect Connecticut but we will see attempts to overturn the federal Defense Of Marriage Act. And, frankly, I think this is profoundly undemocratic.
We're talking about overturning the state constitutional amendments ratified by the people of 38 states and we're then saying, well, we're going to pass same-sex marriage in Connecticut and we're going to have couples in Connecticut get same-sex marriages, go to these states and file federal suits to overturn state laws. I mean, everyone knows that this is going to happen.
So I think even proponents understand that the name conveys a status and that the status is important.
We want to keep and protect the status of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The name is more than just a label.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. And so my final question is, to put your final statement there, in a different perspective, you want to continue to deny that status to same-sex couples for the benefit of heterosexual couples?
BRIAN BROWN: No. Because I don't accept the terms that you're putting forward of the debate. I don't think that the state can do what it's saying it's going to do.
Even if the state passes same-sex marriage tomorrow, what the state is doing is creating something that the state recognizes, but is not then, just because the state says it is so, a marriage.
I think marriage is intrinsically some thing, and the thing that marriage is, is the union of a man and a woman. Both genders are required.
What marriage is, by its very definition, is the union of a man and a woman. So by the state tomorrow creating same-sex marriage, what the state is creating is confusion.
It's not going to change for me my marriage. That isn't the reason I'm concerned about it. I'm concerned about the long-term implications.
I'm concerned about the implications for religious liberty. I'm concerned about the profound public problems that are created.
Time and time again, when we speak on this issue, people say, well, how is that going to affect your marriage. Well, I think that's a very shallow view of public policy, frankly.
It doesn't, just because it doesn't mean that I'm getting divorced tomorrow if you pass same-sex marriage, doesn't mean that we don't have a right and obligation to speak.
It's because we care about the common goal, and we believe, I believe, that marriage between a man and woman is profoundly beneficial to the common good.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any other questions for Mr. Brown. Senator Kissel.
SEN. KISSEL: Less of a question, very briefly, because I want my mandatory three hours, I think. If you're going to have props, though, you should really, sort of like show them to everybody.
You have a hand truck there and four giant boxes. I'm just wondering what exactly is in there and how was it collected.
BRIAN BROWN: Yeah. To my right are all of the petitions collected through the petition drive. We delivered copies of these, it was an arduous task trying to deliver them to the House and Senate leaders, and also to the Governor, but the petitions are all here.
And, again, we continue to get petitions, even though we're not actively seeking them. People are very interested in this issue. Again, if you think that it's going to just go away, it's not.
And I don't think that, that passage of civil unions, the framing that has gone on is, well, we passed civil unions and nothing happened. Or Massachusetts passed same-sex marriage and nothing happened.
A lot has happened. I've mentioned some brief things and if we look around the world, a lot more has happened.
SEN. MCDONALD: Other questions? Representative Adinolfi.
REP. ADINOLFI: Thank you. Real quick. How many signatures do you have there?
BRIAN BROWN: Over 100,000 signatures.
REP. ADINOLFI: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anything further for Mr. Brown? Representative Geragosian.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Hi, Brian.
BRIAN BROWN: Hi. How are you doing?
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Great. You mentioned in your testimony how you didn't want to go through a pursuit of judicial activism on the issue, that you thought the people should decide, right?
BRIAN BROWN: Ultimately.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: The way Massachusetts did it wasn't proper in your mind.
BRIAN BROWN: No. It wasn't.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Here in Connecticut we have a representative democracy and we are the representatives of the people.
Mind you, we have to adhere to the state and federal constitution and to the spirit of those documents. And that's wherein, I think, we've passed civil unions, but I'll let you comment on that if you'd like.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I think some issues are so critical, are so momentous, are so life-changing for a society, that the people deserve a right to vote directly on them.
Now people may disagree. But I think that in state governments across the country we gerrymandered districts, we have all sorts of things that end up thwarting the people's will.
And so, if we have a question that's this contentious, we have a question that's this decisive, it's better for everyone to allow a direct vote, because at least people feel like the democratic process has played out.
This has been done before in the State of Connecticut. I've heard arguments being put forward that a non-binding referendum is illegal, or something else, people have said. I don't believe that's true, and I think history bears this out.
I mean, back in 1991, there was a vote on an act concerning the payment of estimated personal income tax and it was for a non-binding referendum.
It was in a Committee, it was voted out of Committee. Now, it didn't have a full floor vote, but I'm not aware of anything in the legislative history that has people saying that we can't do a non-binding referendum. We can do a non-binding referendum.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And you talked about, with your discussion with Senator McDonald, the issue of polling data.
And I don't really cast my votes by polling data, but I know that we can all agree that the polling data differs by age. Isn't that true?
Younger people tend to be more favorable of same-sex marriage than older people, for instance.
BRIAN BROWN: That's true.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And that's one of my concerns about a referendum, governing by referendum, in the sense of an issue like this, where the future generation is very favorable to same-sex marriage, are they not?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. Yes. That is generally the case.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And I would think within five or ten years, the public at large would probably be, if you're going to look at polls, would be in favor of a same-sex marriage, would they not?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: And--
BRIAN BROWN: Did you say in five or ten years people would, no. It's not necessary, it isn't necessarily the case that people when they're younger they wouldn't change their position when they get older.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: It's possible but we moved in a direction over time. I think people are much more in favor of gay marriage than they were 15 or 20 years ago, in general. Is that true?
BRIAN BROWN: I think that's true for 15 or 20 years, but I think in the last few years the direction's actually on our side.
So I don't think that this idea of inevitable progress, I think is, the idea of framing this as, well, it's inevitable, I think is wrong. I think over the last few years it's gone more in our direction. I think polls bear that out.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I'm not sure either way.
BRIAN BROWN: Okay.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I haven't really studied the issue. But, and lastly, the question I asked the other gentleman that was here, do you believe civil rights law should be subject to public vote, referendum?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, that question begs the question of why I'm here. If I believed that this was a civil rights question, I wouldn't be here.
That is the question at hand, is, is there a civil right to redefine marriage? The reason I am here is because I am saying, no, there is not, emphatically.
If I believed there was a civil right, I would be out there marching, saying, yes. But this is not the same thing.
And that is why, in communities that have been, seen true discrimination, and I'm not saying same-sex couples haven't seen discrimination, but those that have been slaves, the African-American community, for example.
You have higher opposition to same-sex marriage in the African-American community than in any other ethnic community. And you can look at poll after poll showing this.
I'm not saying that's true of every single African-American. I'm not saying anything like that at all. But to take and co-opt the civil rights movement, I don't think is right.
I think it's wrong, and if I believed what you're saying, I would support same-sex marriage. I do not. I don't think this is a civil rights question.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I asked you a specific question. Do you think it's proper to put a civil rights question up for a public vote, for a public vote of some sort? Not whether you think this is, if it were.
BRIAN BROWN: No. If it was a civil right, as defined by our United States Constitution, the way to change that would be through the Constitution.
I mean, we have constitutional law defining our rights. So is that where they come from? No. But, no, I wouldn't, if it was a true civil right. But, again, I don't believe this is a civil right.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I mean, do you think it would be proper for voting rights in the 60's, to have been put up for a vote of the people in Alabama, for instance?
BRIAN BROWN: Again, this is the exact same thing that Maggie was addressing, and I think people need to listen very clearly.
If you believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and you speak up, people are going to attempt to compare this to the horrific laws that, anti-miscegenation laws, Jim Crow laws, laws that I think all of us can agree were horrific.
No. I do not think they are the same. I think you are comparing apples and oranges, and, frankly, I do think it's a slap in the face to the civil rights movement to compare the two.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Well, I mean, the problem with that, for me, as a student of history, is I think a lot of the arguments are the same. That's why the comparisons get made.
Do I think that the people who are opposed to this are bigoted? Some of them may be. Most of them aren't. The vast majority aren't.
But the point, in my mind, I think it is a constitutional right under equal protection. So from where I sit, how can, that's why I think that this is a civil rights issue.
So, thank you. And I don't think it demeans, you know, this is a continuum on how we believe in different things, and I appreciate your coming up there.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I liked the debate. It's been fun.
BRIAN BROWN: Thanks.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: As a person of color, and I'm speaking about the civil rights issue, I thought that a civil rights issue was when a class of people, or a class of citizens are subject to inequities as compared to other people, it becomes a civil rights issue. You wouldn't say that this is a civil rights issue based on that explanation?
BRIAN BROWN: No, I would not.
SEN. GOMES: Why not?
BRIAN BROWN: For the same reason that I don't think that it's a civil rights issue that Social Security is only for older people. The same reason that I think it's not a civil rights issue that four people can't get married.
The reason is because marriage by definition is the union of a man and a woman. It's not an arbitrary exclusion to say marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
If I follow your argument, then I get to the point where I'm saying, what about, say there's just ten people in this state, just ten people who believe that they should be able to marry two people. Are we abrogating their civil rights by saying no?
SEN. GOMES: No. I didn't ask you all of that, but--
BRIAN BROWN: But I answered.
SEN. GOMES: If you were in a court of law, we'd say, answer the question. But when you talk about civil rights, you talk about referendums.
You know, referendums, when you put a referendum on a ballot, you know, it's going to favor those in the majority, rather than those in the minority.
You have petitions there, and you've got 100,000 petitions, but Lord knows where you got them, because nobody in my district ever told me about people being petitioned there.
And you claim that people of color, or Blacks, about they're completely against gay marriages, and I don't know where you got those statistics from.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I never said that all Black Americans were against same-sex marriage.
SEN. GOMES: You said the majority of them.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. They are--
SEN. GOMES: Where did you get the statistics from?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, there's plenty of polls. The Pew Charitable Trust has done polling on this. USA Today, New York Times, almost all of the polls that have been done are fairly clear that the African-American community has some of the highest opposition to same-sex marriage.
SEN. GOMES: Some of the highest opposition?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, as far as if you just judge it by an ethnic group, it is the highest, a large ethnic group.
SEN. GOMES: Is that because they were targeted, or what?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, when you, again, no polling is perfect, but when you have a variety of different organizations all coming back with the same data, it becomes reliable over time, and I don't think there are many people that will dispute.
SEN. GOMES: I think you answered the question the way I wanted it. No polls are perfect.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Senator Gomes, and, just for the record, I was just reading Representative John Lewis' commentary on the subject.
And you may recall that Representative Lewis is a Congressman from Georgia and was one of the original speakers at the 1963 March on Washington, and probably one of the great civil rights leaders of our time.
And in his commentary back in 2003, he makes a pretty compelling argument that this is exactly a civil rights struggle.
So I just didn't want your comments to be the only ones on the subject. Others who have fought the fight long before anybody else in this room probably, take exception to the notion that this isn't a civil rights struggle. Representative Morris was next.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I think the last line of questioning was very great.
I want to give you the opportunity to elaborate a little bit, because I think Senator Gomes made a good point, and one I want to explore, when he said that from his perspective it's a civil rights issue any time that there's a class of people or citizens who are denied rights.
When I heard you say in response, and it might have been after one or two more questions, but it got my attention, was that you said in respect to this issue, the marriage issue, that marriage is not arbitrary.
And I seem to think that you're inferring because this isn't arbitrary and that the determination for same-sex couples to be excluded from marriage is not arbitrary, wasn't designed specifically to exclude them and therefore, you know, discriminatory.
So, can you elaborate on your point in that regard? I don't think you might have had the full opportunity to make the real clarification.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, there are a number of qualifications for marriage. For example, you cannot marry someone within two degrees of consanguinity. I mean, we have all sorts of rules.
You have to be a certain age. There are all sorts of limits to marriage, as far as who can get married in the state. It isn't arbitrary that the definition of marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
And the fact that this is not arbitrary, takes it off the table, in my opinion, that this is discrimination.
Again, I think that you have to make a logical case. If you truly believe that this is arbitrary, then why the binary structure of marriage, if you think for a while about why marriage is based upon two-ness. Don't think about what you've been taught.
Just try and think about what is marriage. Well, why two? The two-ness of marriage is based upon the complementary of a man and a woman.
If you do away with that complementary, and if it's just a matter of me saying who I love, then why not logically, if I say I love two people, well, why not? You have to answer that question.
It doesn't matter that there's not a large proportion of people asking for polyamarry or whatever else. You need to be logical in your laws.
Secondly, again, you can bring up John Lewis, you can bring up others, but Reverend Bernice King, the youngest of Reverend Martin Luther King, has spoken eloquently on the fact that she, she has said this, she didn't believe her father's mission was the mission of same-sex marriage.
There are plenty of other leaders. Dr. Walter Faultroy, who organized the march on Washington, D.C. for Dr. King.
He has been one of the staunchest defenders of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. So, are we divided, yes.
I mean, is this a question that is decisive, yes, but I think we can have a logical discussion.
But I think ultimately that having the people have a voice in this is the way to resolve these sorts of highly decisive, sometimes very emotional, and not always something that we want to talk about these sorts of issues.
I think it's something that can help resolve it. I don't think it's right that the courts would force it on the people. And, I do think a free and fair vote is worthwhile on something like this.
REP. MORRIS: Let's continue the discussion as it relates to a rights issue, because you've heard a number of different kind of rights, whether it was religious rights or whatever that were bandied about here today.
You just made a comment. You said that marriage has limits. And I want to go through a quick discussion. What are some of the limits that we regulate for marriage?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, there are slight differences. States have different age requirements, for example. States have different requirements as far as consanguinity. First cousin, second cousin. But the chief and almost universal basis of this, or requirement, is a man and a woman.
I mean, there are many different requirements we could think of. There are also limits on state recognition of foreign marriages, you know, recognized in a foreign jurisdiction.
A lot of the questions coming up today relate to that. A lot of what you are going to decide isn't just what's going to happen in Connecticut, because there are federal implications of what Connecticut does.
REP. MORRIS: So, am I to infer, or somehow deduce from what you just said, that because we do have requirements, whether it's age or familiar relationships, that we don't allow marriage and we don't call that discrimination, hence we should not consider this discrimination?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. There's age and family relationships that we don't allow. We regulate against marriage. I know this sounds like really simple questions, and they are. Just yes or no answers, quite frankly.
You don't have to go really long on these, Brian. Is there a basis for us, for the government, making those regulations? Age restrictions.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: Are you aware what the basis of any of those regulations was?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I mean, age, clearly, there needs to be some age where we believe that individuals can consent to marriage.
You know, the ages are different from state to state, but, you know, we don't want 13-year olds saying we understand what marriage is, because we don't believe they do. They're not of an age where they can consent to that.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. And who is the we that decided that?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, it's a state by state basis.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. I know these are very simple questions, but I think they're germane. Because I don't have 13-year olds coming here saying that I feel I'm being discriminated against.
I'm talking about a rights issue. I'm just trying to take a look at instances right now where we are regulating groups and just trying to see if there are any parallels here at all, even though they may seem very stretched, far stretched.
Because I've heard some things about, you know, maybe down the road, people will take a look at what age people, the age of consent really should be, and we've heard comments today about polygamy, and a lot of different things about where this can go, and ultimately, this still gets down to an issue of how, to what extent, does government regulate marriage. Am I right?
I mean, whether, someone did bring up the issue today about polygamy, and that will never happen, but in reality, out in Utah and other places, this is an issue. And governments regulate it. So, again, rights issue.
Do you see this as, if we're clear that government does regulate marriage and does have restrictions on certain classes of people, because those who are under the age of 16, are they minors?
We consider them a class of people, based on the definition I've heard. Is that right? Okay.
So, that's a class of people that could say I'm being discriminated against. I don't see it ever happening, but potentially based on the definition that was given today. Am I right?
And there are other things we're trying to do with young kids. A class of people could be, I mean, could it be those who feel that, you know, familiar relationships are okay, and we should be able to get married.
Could that conceivably be a class of people? A 150 years or more from now would petition for such a thing, if this were our definition for discrimination. I see heads around the room nodding yes. Okay. But there has to be a basis for it.
Again, define for us your basis for saying why this group should be excluded just as we say minors should be excluded, those with familiar relationships should be excluded.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, again, because I think the complementarities of male and female is the intrinsic quality. It's what marriage is.
These other things are of a lesser nature than this primary quality of marriage being the union of a man and a woman.
The complementarity of a man and a woman is what defines marriage. And why is that? Why is that the ideal? Because it is in the best interest of children.
REP. MORRIS: And is there a social benefit?
BRIAN BROWN: I think there's a great, there's a clear social benefit. Again, this same-sex marriage issue has become, you know, such a huge issue, it's what, you know, we're constantly talking about.
But, we are very deeply involved with marriage training, trying to keep troubled marriages together.
And all of the problems that we're facing, there are plenty of problems in marriage that have absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
But what we need is a marriage culture, and I think this is sort of the last step that we could take to pull the rug out from any public understanding of what marriage is.
Any understanding that marriage is tied, not only to the desires of adults, but to the very real needs of children.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Is there a social benefit to same-sex marriage, in your mind?
BRIAN BROWN: No.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Because I'm trying, I hear this first as policymakers. Okay. You don't believe there's a social benefit. So, I'm trying to find the argument for why we should be doing this. I know you're not for it, so--
BRIAN BROWN: I'm pretty clear. I don't think we should be doing this.
REP. MORRIS: So, let me go back to my question on rights. I know, you're clear about that. So I'm going to end my last question on this piece.
I think I've kind of walked around it for a bit, because I kind of started this discussion, what got me on this, was the whole civil rights issue, and I'm clearly hearing the gay community saying that they believe this is a right that is being denied somehow. A right. Something that they should rightfully have.
And I think we've walked through with my example of age and whatever for marriage. Maybe you're not the right person to ask the question about.
I'll wait till I hear from some others because I need to hear how somehow this is a constitutional right.
I need to hear that from someone else who's going to come forward, or maybe, I see some of my colleagues are raising their hand.
I hear your position that you don't believe it is one, but I want to hear more of the argument on how this, somehow, can be translated into a right.
Something that's been constitutionally been afforded, particularly when I've heard questions all day, I mean, not questions, but commentary, all day about how traditionally, historically, culturally, this has been defined for centuries or millenniums, within every culture, as something inherently that happens between a man and a woman.
I've heard consistently all day about the social benefits of the fact that only a male and a female can procreate.
So I need to hear somehow, how this really becomes a right and I want to hear more on this issue. How this really becomes discrimination in that regard. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Tong.
REP. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here today, Brian.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
REP. TONG: We've heard a lot of testimony today about polyamarry and I think alarmist suggestions that moving down the road towards gay marriage would lead us to polygamy and other abuses, for lack of a better word. Is that your position?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I don't think necessarily. I'm not making a slippery slope argument. I'm making a logical argument. I'm saying, why not.
REP. TONG: So are you suggesting that a slippery slope argument is not a logical argument?
BRIAN BROWN: No. I'm saying that that could possibly happen, but the main reason to oppose this is because, logically, if your whole definition of same-sex marriage is because people's emotion, love makes a family, and three people, say they love each other, on what ground do you deny them their right?
REP. TONG: But we draw lines all the time, as you, yourself, just said. There is no inevitability under the law. Didn't you say that just a few minutes ago?
BRIAN BROWN: I don't believe there's an inevitability, but I also don't believe that ten years ago, or 15 years ago, anyone would conceive of us having this discussion right now for same-sex marriage.
REP. TONG: Okay. And if there is no inevitability, you also just said in your testimony that we set all sorts of limits all the time under the law on marriage. Isn't that right?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. It's right, but I don't see
REP. TONG: Children cannot marry one another.
BRIAN BROWN: But why would you set a limit that you, yourself, would agree is an abrogation of someone's civil rights?
REP. TONG: No. I'm just asking you.
BRIAN BROWN: Yeah.
REP. TONG: We set limits all the time.
BRIAN BROWN: We do.
REP. TONG: Under the law. We set limits on things less momentous, like our drinking age, which is an important thing to do, but our drinking age, driving age, speed limits, things like that. We set arbitrary lines all the time, don't we?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I don't know if they are arbitrary, but we do set lines.
REP. TONG: But we set lines and that's our job as Legislators.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. That's correct.
REP. TONG: And we do them with more important issues, like, for example, consenting sexual relations.
We don't allow children to enter into sexual relations with adults because we consider that to be statutory rape, and that is something that we don't want to allow in our society.
So we could draw the line at same-sex marriage and not allow our society to go beyond that into polygamy or any other abuse you're afraid of.
BRIAN BROWN: You could do that, but I would ask you why, if you truly believe the arguments being made by Love Makes a Family, why?
It's not a question of whether you can do it, but why would you arbitrarily say these people deserve rights and these don't?
REP. TONG: Well, we don't allow, you know, as you said, cousins that are too close in relation to get married. We don't permit polygamy, and we don't allow children to be married to adults.
And I believe we do that because we don't believe that those relationships are socially beneficial relationships.
We don't believe that they produce a stable family unit, and we don't believe that they're well grounded, both in social norms and our belief in our collective faith.
We made a judgment in this Legislature though, last year, that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as everybody else.
So we've already made a judgment that same-sex relationships are fundamentally different than polygamist relationships, relationships between children, relationships between cousins.
We've already made the judgment that under the law it's okay for people of the same sex to be together in a harmonious relationship for life. Haven't we done that?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, again, same-sex couples could be in a harmonious relationship before you passed civil unions.
What you did, is you conferred certain benefits, rights and privileges to civil unions. But to say that you allowed same-sex couples to be in a harmonious relationship, no, that's not the case. I think they could have been in harmonious relationships before you passed civil unions.
REP. TONG: I want to move on to this issue of civil rights because, from the very beginning of today's hearing, we have heard some folks say that it would be better if we could dismiss the civil rights analogy and not talk about the race analogy, that it's not applicable, and that it pollutes the discussion. And, I'm having trouble with that.
It seems to me that if global warming is the inconvenient truth, that's the inconvenient analogy.
And let me read to you, and this answers a question previously posed about marriage as a civil right.
I'm reading and it says here, marriage is one of the, quote, basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.
The 14th Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations.
Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry or not to marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state.
The United States Supreme Court said that in Loving v. Virginia, a case that not too long before I was born, would have prevented inter-racial marriage, and did.
And I can tell you that I take my marriage very seriously. I've been married for five years this year. We have a daughter. She's one year old.
And we were married in an Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut. But at the time of Loving v. Virginia, I could not have entered into that union because I married a white woman.
And back then, it was unlawful because people thought that the mixture of men and women of different races would cause the decline and degeneration of our society.
And that many of the Jim Crow laws, and laws against, laws promoting racism, and a system of discrimination, were there to prevent that very circumstance from happening. From men and women of different races from getting together.
And today, I ask you, we teach that now in our schools and our children accept that that's okay for men and women of different races to be married. Has society broken down or died because of that?
BRIAN BROWN: Of course not. Loving v. Virginia was a great milestone in civil rights history. And, I support wholeheartedly that anti-miscegenation laws were made to keep the races apart. Marriage is to bring the genders together. You can't compare the two.
REP. TONG: Sorry. Now we heard earlier that to believe that same-sex marriage is right, we have to believe, conversely, that marriage is a discriminatory institution. Did you hear that testimony?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. TONG: So by ruling the Virginia statute unconstitutional, and by deciding that people of different races could marry, did we thereby hold that the institution of marriage is discriminatory?
BRIAN BROWN: No.
REP. TONG: Okay. Do you believe that we as Legislators have a duty to ensure that the government and our society provides equal protection of the laws?
BRIAN BROWN: Of course.
REP. TONG: You understand that we have a duty under our State Constitution and under our federal Constitution, to safeguard that protection.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. TONG: Let me just ask you, finally, about another case. Are you familiar with the case, Plessy v. Ferguson?
BRIAN BROWN: Yes.
REP. TONG: What is the fundamental holding of that case?
BRIAN BROWN: Separate is not equal.
REP. TONG: Separate but equal is inherently unequal.
BRIAN BROWN: No.
REP. TONG: That is a mantra that, not only do we learn in law school, but that we learn from our various, very earliest days in grade school in our civics lessons in this country. Isn't that right?
BRIAN BROWN: That is true.
REP. TONG: And what's the status of Plessy v. Ferguson and the discarded idea that separate but equal is acceptable.
BRIAN BROWN: Separate is not equal. And that is another great decision that we made based upon race. But, again, you're comparing race to marriage. And these are comparing apples to oranges.
And, again, this is what I said from the very beginning. To do this is to basically say, and this is what it is about. We can disagree on these issues.
But it's basically to say that those, that majority of Connecticut who believes that marriage is the union of a man and a woman are bigots, because you just said, separate is not equal, and you applied it to marriage, acting as if, because we have civil unions and marriage, we have created a separate but unequal status.
By doing that you're essentially saying that we are discriminating and that we are being bigoted.
REP. TONG: I didn't. I don't think I called you a bigot today, Sir.
BRIAN BROWN: No. But--
REP. TONG: I'm just using our constitutional jurisprudence and logic to get to a certain point, which is how come we can't apply this jurisprudence and this logic. I'm just. Look.
Somebody said earlier, and she was, I can't remember who she was with, but she testified, maybe the second or third person here. And she said that marriage between a man and a woman is fundamentally different than marriage between people of the same gender.
And that, you know, it's a very different institution. And so they are separate and they are inherently unequal. Isn't that true?
BRIAN BROWN: My whole testimony is to say that marriage cannot be what you're trying to make it into. That you're comparing apples to oranges and that marriage is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman.
To call, to redefine marriage, and to say that it is the same thing as race, excluding the races from marrying, it is the exact same thing to say that only people of opposite sex can marry.
You don't need to say the word bigot. You're saying that it is discrimination. I do not believe it is discrimination. If I did, I wouldn't oppose it.
REP. TONG: I'm sorry. I understand that you're trying to give me an answer, but I don't hear any answer from you other than you just can't apply the race analogy to this example, and you haven't given me an explanation as to why. Now, let me just close [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 4A to Tape 4B.]
--that this is the issue. And it ought not to be trivialized. This is the fundamental question before us, as a civil right, as a civil rights issue, and that's what we're struggling with.
And without an explanation, or a complete answer to that question, it makes it very difficult for us to understand where you're coming from.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I think Maggie did a great job of making this clear. As a group, as a class, opposite sex couples can naturally give birth to children and rear them. Not all can.
That's not what you say when you say a class. But in general, they can. And if they don't, if they decide to adopt, there will be a mother and father present. That cannot be said of same-sex couples.
So just on the face of it, there is a distinction. There is a difference. They are not the exact same thing.
And because they are not the exact same thing, it would be wrong to treat them equally. They are not the same thing.
REP. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Senator Gomes. I'm sorry. And Representative Walker as well. I'm sorry.
SEN. GOMES: When we spoke before, we talked about inequities concerning a class of people. And I heard John Lewis' name came up as to how he felt about same-sex marriages. And, also, you countered with Walter Fauntleroy and, who was it?
BRIAN BROWN: Reverend Bernice King.
SEN. GOMES: Reverend Bernice King. Walter Fauntleroy, back in 1965 was a representative for the D.C., District of Columbia, when they voted on the civil rights bill that allowed people of different races to be able to get married.
Now, I understand some of the things that Walter Fauntleroy stood for. As a matter of fact, in the late '70s, as a civil rights coordinator for the United Steel Workers, I sat on a 10-member panel when he testified before Congress. And I understood that.
And I'm sure that when you talk about King's daughter, I'm sure she should remember what King said about an injustice to one was an injustice to all.
And this is the principle that we are working on now. This is what I told you, or the principle that I believe in, that this was, it is discrimination because of the fact that it's an inequity that is labeled, or centered on one class of people. Just the same way that inequities were centered on Blacks many years ago before 1965.
Now I don't, I don't understand how you can say that the civil rights movement cannot be, I guess, matched up with what we're talking about now.
BRIAN BROWN: Again, people can make all the arguments they want. I'm not saying people can't argue this. All I'm saying is that I don't think it's accurate, and I don't think you can just cherry pick, you know, one person to be representative of any race. I'm just saying that there is a division.
I know Dr. Fauntleroy. Dr. Fauntleroy has spoken on this issue time and time again. He clearly opposes same-sex marriage. There are others that support it.
But I'm just making an argument saying that plenty of people don't believe that this analogy, who were in the middle of the civil rights movement, and Dr. Fauntleroy was right in the middle of it, doesn't accept this.
SEN. GOMES: I'm sure that you can go to many others that will also give an opinion contrary to what King's daughter and Dr. Fauntleroy are saying right now.
But what I'm working on is the same principle that when I was a kid, before civil rights was an issue, and before anybody ever asked an opinion of a Black person about what should be in this country.
I remember way back then what civil rights meant to us and when finally some of the bills were passed.
Some of the hurts and inequities that were served upon us and made us second-class citizens. And I'm saying this is the same thing that is being done here.
We are really trying to cure the problem of these people being second-class citizens, too, the same way we were. That's my belief, anyhow.
BRIAN BROWN: We're going to have to agree to disagree.
SEN. GOMES: All right.
REP. LAWLOR: Since we're throwing names around, I was curious if Dr. King's daughter felt? I was kind of curious of what Coretta Scott King felt, and, apparently, on March 23, 2004, she announced her support for gay marriage and called it a civil rights issue. I just thought it would be worth throwing out there. But, in any event, Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Thank you, Representative Lawlor, for that. Hi, Brian. How are you?
BRIAN BROWN: Hi. How are you doing?
REP. WALKER: I guess, I sat here for a few minutes to try and figure it out, and I listened to Representative Tong and Representative Gomes and Representative Morris, and I kept trying to figure out how you couldn't see the analogy, but, I hate to be this blunt, but I'm a product of the civil rights movement.
I grew up in North Carolina. My family moved here to Connecticut because we were burnt out of North Carolina by people who carried Bibles and crosses. They wore white and they wanted us out of their neighborhood because we were different.
I felt the pain of not being able to drink in the fountains. I felt the pain of never being able to really ride on the busses with other children.
It's gone, and I know it's hard for you to understand that. It's hard for you to see the analogy of being discriminated against.
It's hard to feel what it's like when you know you cannot belong because people are using religion and government to isolate you.
You haven't lived it because you are, not any fault, but you are a white man from the North. You haven't been there. You're not gay.
Discrimination, no matter who or what you believe in, is difficult. When people said today that it's the best interest for children.
Inter-racial marriage, as Representative Tong said, the best interest for children is not to have different races. The best religious upbringing is to have the same religions marry.
Those are things that really are about civil rights, and there is no difference in this struggle. It's a different agenda. It's a different direction. But it's still discrimination.
And when we start to try and quantify and qualify discrimination, there's a problem. Because what we're doing is we're saying that there are gray areas of discrimination that are okay.
And, I will, as a product of the civil rights, as a Black woman, will never support something like that.
And I would hope, that in your heart, that you will understand that discrimination cannot be accepted because we have to represent everybody. But just understand that this is the same.
And you will always find people that will not agree with you. When you said that Blacks are the largest minority. That's not true.
Latinos have a problem with gay marriage because of their religious background. Everybody has a different foundation, so it's just not a minority.
It's not just a Black issue. It's not a Latino issue. Everybody has a different center, and that's okay. But it's still discrimination, Sir.
And I believe that we need to look at it in that direction, and allow other people to live in the way they want. But please don't, don't diminish civil rights and don't diminish fights for struggles. Thank you.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, again, I mean, I want to address that because it's, again, the same argument. Everything that you experienced in the South was horrific. To be burnt out of your house. To have a separate line based on your race.
But again, I think that my argument is fairly clear. That marriage serves the function of bringing the genders together.
It is based upon true diversity. The diversity of male and female. You're comparing this social good to the exclusion of races.
Laws that kept the races apart had absolutely nothing to do with the intrinsic definition and goal of marriage. They were horrible laws.
Laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman are not discrimination, and we will never agree on this point if you think that they are the same.
REP. WALKER: Do you think that laws that define race, a good race and a bad race are acceptable?
BRIAN BROWN: Of course not.
REP. WALKER: Okay. So. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Further questions? Representative Adinolfi.
REP. ADINOLFI: Real quick. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Brian, for being here.
BRIAN BROWN: Thanks.
REP. ADINOLFI: I'm getting very confused here. I'm listening to this discrimination, equal rights, and I think what we're talking about, what I hear coming from you, it's just about a definition of a word.
We're not questioning civil rights or the rights of any individual. I'm sure there are a lot of disparities and things that were done wrong in the past, which have been corrected and we're continuing to correct them as we go along.
But if I'm gathering your testimony right, we're talking just about the definition of marriage, and there's no question on your side about equal rights. It's just two different things.
Maybe we should change the word marriage to another word. I don't know. And then maybe the married people, as defined right now, man and a woman, will come back and say that they're being discriminated against because they're different. And they are different.
So, again, thank you for coming here. But the longer I sit here, the more confused I get, and I kind of see coming from you, and some of the others, we're talking about the definition of a word. Not discrimination and not equal rights. And, thank you for bringing the testimony forward.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Meyer.
SEN. MEYER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Brown, shouldn't concern about same-sex marriage be allayed or reduced by the fact that no church will be required to marry a same-sex couple. No minister or no rabbi will be required to marry the same-sex couple.
That there will be choice, just as a woman has a choice. There's no government compulsion. There's no mandate. It's a piece of paper that two people can elect to go to Town Hall and get.
But there's no church, no minister, no rabbi that will ever be compelled to join two people together. Doesn't that allay your concerns?
BRIAN BROWN: No. Because I think that that's bit of a red herring in the canard. The real threat that immediately the government is going to say you have to marry same-sex couples.
The real threat is all the ways that public institutions marginalize for exactly what Maggie Gallagher brought up earlier, how do we treat bigots?
What did the federal government do to Bob Jones University, their C3 status, as a non-profit organization. It was revoked. Why? Because they did something very wrong.
They were saying there's no inter-racial dating at Bob Jones University. If you truly believe that those of us who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, are practicing discrimination, then why would you not use the coerce powers of the state on 501 C3's, non-profit organizations on Catholic Charities, on adoption agencies, credential educational institutions, on and on and on and on.
And what we have seen is exactly this. The Canadian example is quite clear. The Knights of Columbus were sued for not having a same-sex marriage ceremony in a Knights of Columbus hall. The argument being you're practicing discrimination.
Catholic Charities, I already brought up. The fact that Catholic Charities was put out of business in the State of Massachusetts because they refused, on their religious convictions, our first freedom in the United States Constitution, religious liberty. Put out of business. Told you can no longer adopt because you refuse to adopt to same-sex couples.
In any instance I can think of, whether a quasi-public or a public or even a private institution that is a non-profit that's regulated in some way by the state, there is going to be a direct conflict.
And you may say, as some scholars do, that in this conflict sexual liberty should always trump religious liberty.
You may argue that. I profoundly disagree with you. I think it's throwing away our First Amendment rights, but you may say that.
But come out and say that, because the implications of same-sex marriage in jurisdictions that have gone in this direction are quite clear.
There is a conflict. There is a conflict of a great magnitude between religious liberty and this new moral narrative we will have the state launching on behalf of same-sex marriage.
SEN. MEYER: Mr. Chairman, just briefly, I don't follow you. This country really has lived by a separation of church and state. That concept, that doctrine is built into the bill that's in front of us.
You're trying to take us on a slippery slope that I just don't think is there. I don't see any of the coercion that you're talking about on any church, on any minister, on any synagogue, on any rabbi, that would require them to bless or unite same sex. I think this bill is voluntary.
You represent an organization, I believe, that doesn't believe in choice. Am I right? With respect to a woman who's raped or for one reason or another seeks an abortion.
You don't believe that a woman should have a choice. You don't believe that that people should have a choice with respect to marriage, either.
I think you're representing a viewpoint that many, many people, and I dare say the majority of people, have said it is not what they're looking for.
That we believe in choice in this country, whether it be a woman's choice in an abortion, whether it be a choice in marriage, nothing that is compelled or mandated upon us.
BRIAN BROWN: Again I think that the facts speak louder than anything like this. I mean, the facts are quite clear. These things have happened.
I mean, if you want to deny that Catholic Charities, that this happened to Catholic Charities. I mean, you can look it up. It did happen.
Now as far as, I'll ask a question to you. Will the Catholic Church have to recognize these same-sex marriages for benefits, worker benefits?
SEN. MEYER: No. They're not, no church is going to have to recognize.
BRIAN BROWN: So you're saying that a Catholic hospital will not have to recognize, as far as health care benefits and everything else, a same-sex marriage.
SEN. MEYER: If the Catholic hospital is receiving public funds, of course it will.
BRIAN BROWN: Even if it's not, I think under discrimination laws it's quite clear that any religious organization won't be exempted from having to recognize these.
SEN. MEYER: The point is that the religious organization is not going to have to bless, produce, carry out the event here.
BRIAN BROWN: But they'll have to recognize it.
SEN. MEYER: With respect to being publicly funded, a publicly-funded organization has certain rights and obligations in this country and, you know, we're playing that out in another state.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, in Massachusetts the Catholic Charities decision had absolutely nothing to do with public funding. The Attorney General was quite clear.
Even if Catholic Charities did not receive public funding, under anti-discrimination statutes, they would no longer be licensed to perform, to contract adoptions. So absolutely nothing to do with public funding.
You are opening up a kettle of fish that is a Pandora's Box. If we pass same-sex marriage, I think you are, I mean, again, this is my opinion.
I think it's based upon fact. I think you are going to open up a Pandora's Box of religious liberty questions and conflict of law questions.
SEN. MEYER: One last question, Mr. Chairman, if I might. Mr. Brown, I think that you said that some issues are so important that they should go to a people's referendum and that this issue is of that importance.
We don't have a law, a referendum law like California has on this. But I will tell you that the Legislators seated around this table are hearing from a lot of constituents, and those constituents are complaining about their electric rates that are escalating, they're complaining about their health care and their lack of health insurance.
They're worried about the schools. They're worried when the Governor talked about increasing income taxes. But those are the issues that are really bothering people today.
I think you're making, and I know you recognize the importance of this issue for your organization, but I think you're blowing this issue out of proportion to the pocketbook issues that people are so strongly feeling in Connecticut in 2007.
So I think that people are concerned about the war and, frankly, and I hesitate to say this if we're on television, I have not gotten a great deal of reaction from people about this issue.
And I think part of the reason why I haven't gotten that reaction is, is that same-sex marriage under this bill is not being mandated or compelled. It is merely out there as a choice. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. I just want to ask you, Brian. Is it your position and that of your organization that we should repeal the civil union law that's on the books now?
BRIAN BROWN: Yeah, ideally we would because, again, you're creating a separate status for marriage and once we passed civil unions, it wasn't two years until we were at this point for same-sex marriage.
Do I think that that's conceivable? Are we going to the courts to try and force that on the state? No. If the people oppose this, then they'll rise up against it.
Again, the issue here is, are we taking the next step? We oppose, obviously and clearly from my testimony, we oppose taking this last, and I think it's not the final step, but it's close.
REP. LAWLOR: And I remember a couple years ago, you said pretty clearly when we debated civil unions, that civil unions were just gay marriage by another name. Do you still feel that way?
BRIAN BROWN: I do, but I think the name is quite important, and I talked about that a little earlier, that the name conveys a status and that status is very important and it's important that we keep that.
REP. LAWLOR: And I asked a couple of people earlier on, because I think helps us to understand people's views on this issue, I mean, do you personally feel that homosexuality is intrinsically evil and objectively disordered?
BRIAN BROWN: Again, as a Roman Catholic and as someone who believes in the First Amendment, in the First Amendment there is a small line that says there shall be no religious test or qualifications for office. Now what you're saying isn't a religious test or qualification. I'm not running for office.
But the idea that, as a Roman Catholic who believes what the Church teaches, I don't have a right to stand up and speak my mind freely and fairly. I think that goes against one of the key foundational principles of this country.
So, yes, as a Catholic, I believe what the Catholic Church teaches on this, and I respect my Protestant brothers and sisters, everyone here, who have their own religious beliefs, but the arguments that I put forward today I think are logical and rational arguments on the foundation of marriage.
I think people of different faiths and different backgrounds can agree on this. And for those that disagree, that's what this public hearing is about.
REP. LAWLOR: I'm glad you said that because I think that seems to be the dividing line. If you believe that about homosexuality, then you're opposed to same-sex marriage and if you don't, typically, you're supportive of at least civil unions and potentially marriage.
And I think it's important because I definitely respect everyone's views, but I think it's important to clarify the basis of those views, and I respect you for saying that that's how you feel.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I believe in, you know, respect the basic human dignity of everyone. So again, I think that's something our church teaches. Charity, love, respect. And that's what I believe in.
REP. LAWLOR: So labeling people as intrinsically evil and objectively disordered is a respectful thing in your view?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, first of all, the Church doesn't label people as that. It talks about acts that the Church doesn't agree with. That's a very different thing. So it's a mischaracterization of what the Catholic Church teaches.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. So I'll clarify my statement. So you believe that people who love people of the same sex are intrinsically evil and objectively disordered? That's what you feel?
BRIAN BROWN: Of course I don't. I'm saying that people are individuals. I'm not saying anything like that.
But if you want to stand up here and have a show trial on my Catholicism, I'm willing to stand here and sit here and answer questions all day because, again, people fought for the right to be Catholic.
People fought for the right to believe what they believe and speak up on those issues and anyone here who's sitting here, I don't care what religion you are, don't ever be silenced.
Don't ever be told don't speak what you believe. That's what we have to do. That's what I believe in.
REP. LAWLOR: I'm glad you said what you said. And consistent with that tradition, we have a tradition here that public expressions of support or opposition during our hearings are not permitted in respect for the witnesses, regardless of whatever their views are. So, Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to ask you, Mr. Brown, have you ever been a victim of discrimination?
BRIAN BROWN: Not in any, no. Not in any tangible way, no. I mean I think that, if you're going to sit up and attack people for their faith, I think that's discrimination.
I think oftentimes the Catholic Church itself and Christians in general are subject to discrimination. Me, individually, not anything tangible. Nothing that I would say has limited my civil rights.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Brown.
BRIAN BROWN: Thanks.
REP. LAWLOR: You just raised something that raises a question in my own mind. I am Catholic. I was married in the Catholic Church, as I assume you were because you've talked about Catholicism.
And there's also, my wife and I could have chosen, if we did not want to go through the sacrament of being married in a church, we could have chosen to go to a justice of the peace and undergone a civil marriage.
My question to you is, is there any distinction between those two marriages?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, there would be a distinction for you as a Catholic, because the Church wouldn't recognize it, but as far as the state is concerned, this whole division that we've artificially created where we have religious marriage and then we have civil marriage.
The state recognizes marriages performed by pastors that are duly accredited in their faith.
But those marriages have to meet certain qualifications. So, for example, if you go to a church that blesses same-sex marriages, the state isn't going to say this is a marriage.
The reason the state doesn't do that is because the state has a definition of marriage whereas, in a church that you're being married and you're a man and a woman, of course, the state's going to recognize that because you've met those qualifications.
REP. LAWLOR: But the distinction between, and I go through this in my own mind, the distinction between a civil marriage and a religious marriage, they would both be recognized by the state.
BRIAN BROWN: Yes. If the qualifications have been met, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. Thank you. Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: I also am Catholic and I belong to a Catholic Church and I was married in a civil marriage.
What you're telling me, according to what you said, the teachings of the Catholic Church, that I shouldn't even have an opinion as a Senator on this issue at all.
What did you say, and could you repeat what you said about this issue on when asked by Representative Lawlor. What was that question you asked, Representative Lawlor?
REP. LAWLOR: I was asking whether Mr. Brown felt that persons who love people of the same sex and apparently engage in sex with them, are intrinsically evil or objectively disordered. Some people argue that.
SEN. GOMES: Do you believe that? Do you believe they are?
BRIAN BROWN: Again, he put the question forward not what the Church teaches. The Church says homosexual acts. It's not attacking persons. So, Representative Lawlor is saying that the Church says the people are evil.
SEN. GOMES: And what did you say the Church said?
BRIAN BROWN: The Church says certain acts are not appropriate or wrong. It's not saying that the people are evil. It's a very big distinction.
SEN. GOMES: And in that sense, then what you're saying is they don't agree with same-sex relationships at all.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I think the Catholic Church's position on same-sex marriage is quite clear. The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage.
SEN. GOMES: And you base your convictions on what the Catholic Church has taught you? You said as a Catholic.
BRIAN BROWN: Not only. I believe that it's logical and rational to believe that, and to understand that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
I mean, again, even this line of questioning, it's almost as if, you know, people of religious faith have no minds of their own. You think these things through.
You say is this true. Is this accurate? Is this rational? I believe those are all the case. I believe that it is true that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
SEN. GOMES: I believe that people do have a mind of their own. I'm not questioning that. I was questioning you.
I was questioning what you said about the Catholic Church and what they believe about same-sex relationships.
And I come away with the belief that what you have said is that my sitting here as a Catholic Senator should not really have a decision to make on this, because the Catholic Church has made it through what they've taught you. If I'm a Catholic member just like you, that's the case.
BRIAN BROWN: You can have any, you could have any opinion you want, but what the Catholic Church teaches is quite clear. That marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
SEN. GOMES: And that's the basis of your argument?
BRIAN BROWN: No. The basis of my argument is I believe that that is rational. I believe that that is true. There are people that do not share my faith at all.
There are Orthodox Jews, Evangelical Protestants, people of entirely different religious backgrounds that still agree and understand that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
Is it a source for truth? Of course it is. And if you are a professing Catholic, is that a part of who you are? Of course it is. And it is a clear teaching of the Church.
SEN. GOMES: Therefore, I should ignore the fact that a class of people have been, are being treated differently and I should ignore that this is, it's a civil rights issue to me.
I should ignore the fact that it is a civil rights issue because of the teachings of the Catholic Church and because I'm Catholic.
BRIAN BROWN: I mean, maybe a priest is going to speak later. I don't know. I'm not really qualified. I mean I'm not sitting up here as a representative of the Catholic Church. I'm being asked these questions and I'm trying to answer them honestly.
SEN. GOMES: You're espousing the views of the Catholic Church.
BRIAN BROWN: Part of who I am--
SEN. GOMES: What more could a priest do?
BRIAN BROWN: He may be able to cite letter and exactly where in the catechism this all is. No, again, I think that if, I don't know what exactly what you're saying.
B if you're saying that Catholics, or people who have religious beliefs, are automatically disqualified from standing up and speaking on them because it's some sort of irrational basis, I think that is fundamentally flawed.
I think it is a rational basis. I believe that the teachings of the Church are rational. I believe that they are true. That's why I'm Catholic. I could choose not to be Catholic.
SEN. GOMES: You know when I was a kid, you know, they scared us with Heaven and Hell and all that, I thought you were saying I was going to Hell if I cast my vote.
BRIAN BROWN: I didn't say that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further? Representative Morris has something that just can't wait. Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to be brief because some of this is just reiterating what's already been said, but are the teachings of the Church protected under the law?
BRIAN BROWN: The teachings?
REP. MORRIS: Are the teachings of the Catholic Church protected under the law? Yes or no.
BRIAN BROWN: Under First Amendment grounds, yes. But that doesn't mean that there aren't attempts to undermine those.
REP. MORRIS: You've been making this case, it seems like that, you know, they're being trumped or whatever, and somehow being attacked so, you know, I keep hearing you sound like you're protecting those teachings.
So I just want to make sure that it's clear for everyone that those teachings are protected under the law.
I want to go back, and Senator Gomes got up to some point, but I had a little trouble, too, on the piece that Representative Lawlor asked you, and I just want to go through it one more time.
The comment he asked you about individuals who are homosexual, whether they are intrinsically evil or objectionably disordered.
Okay. A lot of terms here. Okay. I want to make sure that you clarify for us again. Are you saying that about the individuals or are you saying that about the behavior.
BRIAN BROWN: Emphatically not. That's what I said when Representative Lawlor first said it. I'm not saying this about individuals.
REP. MORRIS: Well you may think you said that, but I clearly took the notes down, at the time you said it about the individuals and that's why I followed up again.
BRIAN BROWN: When Representative Lawlor first said this, I said this, that the Church's teaching is not saying that individuals are intrinsically evil.
I mean the Church is a church of charity, of love. We're in the middle of Lent. This is not what the Church teaches.
REP. MORRIS: Very good. I wanted you to have the opportunity to make sure that was clear. And because my Bible teaches me that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, so I think you're probably on that same page.
So when we start talking about sin, no one should be feeling they've been castigated or that they're the most horrible person in the world.
We've talked today about adultery and a lot of different things, so I think when we start having the discussion about sin in the public place, everyone shouldn't shudder. You know, we all have sinned.
BRIAN BROWN: I feel a lot of shuddering around me.
REP. MORRIS: There you go. Okay. Going back to the last piece. The basis of your position, you just said it, but I want to make sure we're clear.
Because when Representative Lawlor asked the question, the basis of your views or your position on homosexuality, I want you to, just one more time, for the record to make it clear, is the basis of your position your Catholic doctrine or feelings about homosexuality, or is it something else?
BRIAN BROWN: The basis of my position is my rational belief in the intrinsic basic definitional quality of marriage being the union of one man and one woman.
As a Catholic, I believe what the Catholic Church teaches. If that means that people are going to say you're out of here, so be it.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you. That's all. I just wanted to make certain we were clear.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Seeing nothing further for Mr. Brown, I thank you for your testimony.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Captain Amy Pear, followed by Laurie Palitier. Is there, if you are leaving the room, please do so in a quiet manner. We appreciate it. Thank you very much.
CAPT. AMY PEAR: First, I'd like to say thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today in support of marriage equality legislation. My name is Amy Pear. I live is Hamden, Connecticut, with my partner, June Lockert.
I am, I am the Connecticut representative of Goal New England. I am a lifelong resident of Connecticut and I was raised by two parents and up until my mother's passing a couple of years ago, they were still married.
They have instilled the value of commitment in my current relationship. I have spent the last 18 years of my life protecting and serving the public with the Middletown Police Department, where I currently hold the rank of Captain.
I have worked with my union representatives to provide equal work for equal pay to all of its members. This has been painstaking in light of the new civil union laws. We've sat down. We've gone over it. Contractual language sometimes has some uniqueness to it.
For the last 13 years, June has stood by my side and endured the life of a police officer's spouse. When we first met, I was working as a narcotics detective.
This meant that she would have to wait up late for me at night, not knowing what would come or what would happen while we were executing search warrants, serving arrest warrants on drug dealers and dealing with scores of other unpredictable and potentially dangerous situations.
Then it meant putting up with me while I studied for the sergeant's position. Going through the testing process and eventually being promoted to sergeant and working the midnight shift. She would have to go asleep alone at night, not knowing what the morning would bring.
Then it was time to take the lieutenant's exam and finally the captain's promotion. These tests included written tests, oral panels, chief's interviews.
During these promotional processes I was also pursuing my master's degree, which I obtained in June, from Wesling University.
I could say I had some bad moments and she stood by me, some frustrating moments. That's what spouses do.
When civil unions were legalized, June and I were torn over the decision to have one or not. I did not want to settle for a legal commitment that was not equal to marriage.
My partner and I both understood the importance of marriage. To us marriage means dedicating ourselves to one another.
Until recently, I did not believe the word marriage was so important. Now I understand the fact that marriage is a right I deserve.
Even though we felt that civil union fell short of the full equality that only marriage could give us, due to the danger of my job, we decided to have a civil union, or should I say, we got committed. Or what exactly did we have?
Whatever it was, we did it to protect our family in the event that I die in the line of duty and at this point in time, I'm not sure if the contractual language will be accepted.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony. Are there any questions? Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Captain Pear, for your testimony today. I know you've been a leader for quite some time in the law enforcement community on these issues and since other people have got to plug their websites here, did you want to plug the Goal New England website?
CAPT. AMY PEAR: Sure. Goal New England is an organization of approximately 250 strong law enforcement professionals in the New England area. We've been around for about 13, 14 years now.
It's an educational resource. We've had the opportunities, some of our members spoke at the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Los Angeles a few years ago and it's very difficult to get that position.
Only 14% of the lesson plans are accepted, and they spoke on LGVT issues in policing and the importance of equality in law enforcement.
REP. LAWLOR: And I was happy, was honored to be the moderator of that panel, as a matter of fact, out in Los Angeles and there is a meeting coming up in Providence, right, this June?
CAPT. AMY PEAR: In June there is going to be an international conference of gay law enforcement officers for an entire week. It's an educational conference.
REP. LAWLOR: And the website is Goal New England. Right. G-O-A-L-N-E.org, right. For anyone watching. Goal New England.
CAPT. AMY PEAR: Correct.
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks, Amy.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anything further? Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: You didn't get to finish your thing here, but I want to read what your next paragraph said.
A civil union does afford some recognition and rights, yet every time I think about or discuss this issue I am struck by the fact that it is not proper to create a separate institution.
We should have learned from history that you cannot create separate institutions and consider them equal.
You want to comment on that for us?
CAPT. AMY PEAR: It's very difficult when asked, again I think somebody else brought this up. A high school reunion. You run into somebody you haven't seen for several years and they say, oh, are you married, and you go, well, kind of.
Not really. Well, I was committed. I was civilized. There's no terminology that goes with what we've created.
I don't want to be, I want to be genuine when I say I appreciate the opportunity of civil union, but I grew up in a household that was intact.
My mother, my father, they were married for a very long time. My partner's in the same situation. We were instilled with the knowledge, the understanding of what marriage is.
Obviously, my spouse has put up with some very difficult times because of my job, because of my studies, because I want to move forward, and it's hard to explain to people what our relationship is because nobody understands what the civil union thing is.
And we travel and you try to explain, well, we're kind of married and people just don't understand. It's more than just a word. It's the ability for me to have what my parents wanted for me. And there's more to marriage than just the word.
SEN. GOMES: Thank you. I'm glad I asked about the paragraph.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anything further? If not, thank you very much.
CAPT. AMY PEAR: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Laurie Palitier. Is Laurie here? If not, after that is Roger Vann, followed by Thomas Finn.
ROGER VANN: Thank you, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor and Members of the Committee on Judiciary. My name is Roger Vann.
I'm the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut and I'm here to express our unqualified support for Raised House Bill 7395 and Raised Senate Bill 1449.
First on Raised House Bill 7395. The Legislature should not wait to remedy the exclusion of lesbian and gay couples from the institution of civil marriage.
Marriage is about commitment. It is about sharing, love, trust and compromise. Two adults who make this private, personal choice should not be denied the right to marry just because they are gay or lesbian.
Marriage is a unique legal status conferred and recognized by governments the world over. It brings with it a host of reciprocal obligations, rights and protections. Yet it is more than the sum of its legal parts. It is also a cultural institution.
The word itself is a fundamental protection conveying clearly that life partners love each other and are united and belong by each other's side.
It represents the ultimate expression of love and commitment between two people and everyone understands that.
No other word has that power and no other word can provide that protection. Civil unions are not the same as marriage because they create a separate institution specifically for lesbian and gay couples.
We know historically that separate is never equal. States cannot remedy the discrimination, discriminatory exclusion of a minority group from a governmental institution by creating a separate institution exclusively for that group.
To grant an historically excluded minority group partial access through separate institutions or special designations that distinguish that group is to persist in the message that the group can and should be classified and treated differently.
For example, African-Americans, as we've heard earlier, were for many decades denied educational opportunities of any kind.
When states began to mandate that public education for African-American students be of quality equal to that provided to white students, some communities attempted to fulfill this mandate through better funded, but still segregated schools.
This practice was finally rejected in 1954 by the U.S. Supreme Court which recognized that separation itself, quote, generates a feeling of inferiority as to status in the community that may affect hearts and minds.
When a lesbian and gay couple is denied the opportunity to participate in a fundamental institution such as marriage, which carries enormous societal prestige, that couple is disadvantaged.
Exclusion from this prestigious institution is not innocuous or inconsequential. Such exclusion denies those families participation in an institution that our culture understands and respects as synonymous with family.
It denies them access to something our culture understands as both a fundamental right and a civil right.
Rather than completely embracing that lesbian and gay couples are part of a community of equals, it marks those families as different from all others.
And finally, very briefly, on the issue of Raised Senate Bill 1449, while we urge the passage of the marriage equality bill in Connecticut, we also support this important step towards equality which would respect the decisions of sister states to promote full equality and dignity of lesbians and gay men.
This step is particularly important in light of recent developments in Connecticut's neighboring state, Massachusetts. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions for Mr. Vann? Senator Gomes.
SEN. GOMES: Just so I get the good word from ACLU as to whether or not you agree on this. Do you agree that, I see you put on the bottom here, ACLU of Connecticut [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 4B to Tape 5A.]
SEN. GOMES: --statement in favor of civil rights for gays and lesbians by passing Raised House Bill 7395 and Senate Bill 1449.
ROGER VANN: Yes, Sir.
SEN. GOMES: Do you agree to the assimilation between this right and civil rights?
ROGER VANN: Absolutely.
SEN. GOMES: Absolutely. I thank you.
ROGER VANN: Yes, Sir.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anything further for Mr. Vann? If not, thank you.
ROGER VANN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Thomas Finn followed by Reverend Harlon Dalton. And after Reverend Dalton, we finally get to page 2, which would be Ben Stratford. Good evening.
DR. THOMAS FINN: Good evening, Chairman McDonald, Chairman Lawlor and Members of the Judiciary Committee. I am Dr. Thomas Finn. I live in Southington where I have been in practice as a psychologist for the last 20 years.
I am opposed to these bills seeking the redefinition of marriage. My comments today are in the context of science.
And when discussing research and statistics, it is very easy to lose sight that ultimately we are talking about the lives of individual persons who share a common dignity and value that deserves respect. And it is with respect that my comments are offered.
Raised House Bill 7395 states that it has been found the best interest of children are served when persons show these children care, love, concern and support.
The last 50 years of social science knowledge has taught us, however, that if such persons do not include a child's mother and father then that child is at a greater risk for physical, emotional, behavioral, and social problems.
As the number of children raised without both mother and father present has increased, greater numbers of children have lost the opportunity to absorb the benefits received from the unique capacities that both the mother and father bring to childrearing.
Children thrive when they learn lessons of life from both their mothers and fathers. And decades of research and practice testify to the benefits that the marriage of men and women has offered to their sons and daughters.
Certainly we know that many children in other family forums can thrive, but our goal must remain the standard of marriage which has proven the most stable and the most nurturing for children as a whole, as they are our society's future.
You've been presented with a number of statements, I'm sure you'll be presented with more, to the effect that scientists and professional organizations have proven, based on thorough research, that motherlessness or fatherlessness do not place children at risk. This is simply not true.
The published studies referred to have been unable to answer questions regarding risks to children because, as a group, they have been biased with design flaws so significant that each author includes a paragraph in their own published work saying that they cannot make a scientifically valid or generalized conclusion about their findings.
When you are told that studies find no differences or show no negative effects between children raised by same-gender parents when compared to those raised by heterosexual parents this usually means that children from same-gender couples are compared to single mothers, not those with both a mother and a father.
You're also not described that the small number of children actually studied makes clinically significant differences impossible to detect.
We call that, in the research world, insufficient power, which is similar to looking at a forest of evergreens from far away.
At a distance our eyes aren't strong enough to see the differences between the trees, but use some powerful binoculars and the differences become clearer.
So far the only valid conclusions we can draw is that scientific standards in these studies have been lowered and that, as a whole, we simply do not know yet the broad impact of same-sex parenting on society's children as a whole, their physical, psychological and emotional development.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony.
DR. THOMAS FINN: You're welcome.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any questions? If not, thank you for your time.
DR. THOMAS FINN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: And I should mention to anybody who's still in Room 2A or 2B that there are probably 30 or more, 40 maybe, seats here if you wanted to come back to this room. We'd be happy to have you here.
The next person to testify is Reverend Harlon Dalton. Is Reverend Dalton here? Then Ben Stratford?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [inaudible - microphone not on].
SEN. MCDONALD: Are you signed up here?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yes, I signed up.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm sorry, ma'am, there have been a lot of people who have been waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [inaudible - microphone not on].
SEN. MCDONALD: I understand that. The next person to testify is Dan McCann. Followed by Matt Katz. Is Mr. Katz here? Okay.
DAN MCCANN: Good evening. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak before your prestigious Committee tonight. As you know, some of you may know, that I've been a long-time opponent of same-sex marriage.
And to this point today I still strongly object to the notion of this Committee trying to change a social structure that has been in existence for over 3,000 years.
While I recognize that there are people who are gay and lesbian, and they need to be protected, we have enough laws on the Connecticut books and the federal books that recognize these protections.
In 2005, this same Committee, without a referendum, instituted civil unions to everyone within the State of Connecticut. We, as the people, were told that this would solve the alleged inequality rights that homosexuals are complaining about.
Today this Committee is now attempted to redefine the definition of marriage. And for that I strongly object and say if this Committee is so confident that same-sex marriage will not have a negative impact on the residents of the State of Connecticut and United States of America, why would you not consider to let the people of Connecticut decide this very moral and emotional public policy?
I might also mention the fact of the distortions that the gay and lesbian communities are bringing to the forefront.
We have heard that same-sex marriage is a civil right, and that those who oppose same-sex marriage are hate-mongers, bigots, and not open-minded.
However, this is not true. Many of the people who oppose same-sex marriage, such as those in the African-American community, are appalled that gays and lesbians are using this as a civil right allegation in comparison to what has happened to the African-Americans during the slavery times, post-civil war, and during the 1960s. And even into today.
I would like to ask this Committee to tell me where is it posted that there is a heterosexual bathroom only? Where is it posted that there is a heterosexual water fountain only?
Where is it posted that there is heterosexual seating on a bus? The fact of the matter is that none of this exists.
And that this small minority of Americans are trying to force their way of living on those people who are just trying to get by.
Government should never be involved in our bedrooms. And I truly believe in that. Government should never tell me that I have to accept something that's morally against my religious beliefs.
I would encourage every member of this Judiciary Committee to look into the true facts of why same-sex marriage as a public policy for the State of Connecticut is wrong.
And that the State of Connecticut should stay out of the extreme public policy changes and defend what Governor Rell said she would do, and recognize that the State of Connecticut recognizes a marriage between a man and a woman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much.
DAN MCCANN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Representative Lawlor?
REP. LAWLOR: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Hi, Dan.
DAN MCCANN: Hello, Mike, how are you?
REP. LAWLOR: Just out of curiosity, do you think we should repeal the civil unions law from two years ago?
DAN MCCANN: Yes, I do.
REP. LAWLOR: I just wanted to be clear on that one. And just a couple of factual things. You said that this Committee established civil unions, right?
You understand that we didn't do it, we recommended it, but both houses of Legislature overwhelmingly did it and the Governor signed it. You understand how that works?
DAN MCCANN: I understand, and you also pushed it.
REP. LAWLOR: Right, I fully pushed it. But I do want to say we don't get to decide these things here.
DAN MCCANN: I understand that, Sir.
REP. LAWLOR: And I think you said that we forced it on everybody in the state. We didn't require everybody to get a civil union. You understand that, right?
DAN MCCANN: No, I understand that. But you imposed the law on the people without a referendum. But I'm saying a referendum would be very good so that people have a choice in the matter. This is the public policy.
REP. LAWLOR: And I know you're aware that all of us have to stand for election every two years, and we all explain the way we think and we get elected based on that. You understand how that works?
DAN MCCANN: That is correct, too. You have gone head-to-head twice.
REP. LAWLOR: We have. And the final thing is, you know, all the laws that enacted by the legislature and signed by the Governor, they're all passed without a referendum. You understand how that works?
DAN MCCANN: I understand that clearly. I clearly understand that.
REP. LAWLOR: Got it? Okay, thanks.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Gomes?
SEN. GOMES: You mention all those heterosexual signs and everything? Well, you know why they don't exist? Because long ago a lot of people of color suffered those same inequities and they don't exist because of the civil rights laws that were passed. It doesn't only say blacks or coloreds or anything, they don't have those signs any more.
And you want to know something else? There was no referendum on them. It was passed by the federal government.
DAN MCCANN: I understand that too, Sir.
SEN. GOMES: Alright, thank you.
DAN MCCANN: May I respond to that?
SEN. MCDONALD: Sure.
DAN MCCANN: What I'm saying to you, and I was saying to this Judiciary Committee, is that there is no, that I have seen, there are no active federal programs or laws that are discriminating against gays and lesbians. There are none.
So my point to you is, why do we need to change the social structure for this group of individuals?
SEN. GOMES: As long as you mention all those things about black communities and everything, and a lot of blacks were involved in the civil rights struggles way back then, which I'm one of them because I'm of an age where I was at the 1963 march.
And because people like Martin Luther King said an injustice to one is an injustice to all. And that's the same premise we are working on now.
DAN MCCANN: I strongly disagree with that, Sir.
SEN. GOMES: You have your rights.
DAN MCCANN: Strongly disagree with that. I don't think Martin Luther King, Dr. Martin Luther King would actually say that this is a civil right.
I lived in New York City, I grew up in the post-civil rights era, I saw active discrimination.
I lived within two miles of housing projects, where I saw people being discriminated against. In the post-1970s, which was a very trying time for African-American communities. Okay? This is not the same thing as what I witnessed in New York City.
SEN. GOMES: I lived in the post-50's era, pre-50's era, and let me tell you something. Martin Luther King wouldn't have said that? Well, let me tell you, his wife said it.
DAN MCCANN: That's not Dr. Martin Luther King.
SEN. GOMES: [inaudible] all these years and thought the same.
DAN MCCANN: That's not Dr. Martin Luther King. I don't think he'd say that.
SEN. GOMES: I think he would.
DAN MCCANN: We can disagree with that. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Let me just ask if I heard you correctly. Did you say that there are no federal laws that discriminate against homosexuals?
DAN MCCANN: Not that I'm aware of.
SEN. MCDONALD: What's you consideration of the federal Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military?
DAN MCCANN: I'm not really familiar with that. I know the policy. I'm not totally familiar with the--
SEN. MCDONALD: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Please show him the respect--
DAN MCCANN: I'm not an attorney, I'm sorry.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's all right, Mr. McCann. Just, please proceed.
DAN MCCANN: I am familiar with the policy that in the military the people don't have to disclose their sexual orientation so they don't get thrown out of the military. I believe that's what it is. I'm not 100% sure. I'm not a member of the military so I don't know.
SEN. MCDONALD: So if I told you that it's actually the policy of the federal government that if you disclose the mere fact that you're gay, the mere existence of your status that you're gay, you can be discharged from the military for no other reason other than that fact. Would that surprise you?
DAN MCCANN: No, it would not.
SEN. MCDONALD: Do you consider that to be a discriminatory policy?
DAN MCCANN: I think it has to do with the morale of the troops. It has to do with the morale of the military.
I think that's a policy that needs to be reviewed and I think the United States Government has taken steps to review that. I believe President Clinton instituted that law or that policy back in the early 90's.
SEN. MCDONALD: But the question I asked you, I understand it's a policy, the question I asked you is do you think that that policy has a discriminatory effect on those who are homosexual?
DAN MCCANN: It may at this point. It may. There are, I think, about 43,000 actively gay members of the military.
I think there are some Generals that are actually starting to change their minds about that. But I really can't comment on that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay.
DAN MCCANN: I really can't. I don't really have the expertise to make that comment.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. What is your understanding about the federal Defense of Marriage Act? Do you consider that to be discriminatory?
DAN MCCANN: No, I do not.
SEN. MCDONALD: And what's you understanding of what that act does?
DAN MCCANN: I believe it allows the states to make its own determination on their own marriage laws. Is that correct?
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, if I told you that the federal Defense of Marriage Act specifically denies all of the rights and benefits that accrue to couples in marriages to anybody other than a man and a woman, including Social Security benefits, immigration rights, all of the rights that the federal government bestows on couples who are married, do you think that that creates a distinction in the governmental treatment of heterosexuals from homosexuals?
DAN MCCANN: No. The federal government, as far as I understand it, actually states have the rights to make marriage laws.
So I believe the states have the rights, it's a state right. So the federal government is just ensuring what the states adopted, I believe.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay, so would it be your position then that gay couples who are married under Massachusetts laws have all of their rights of marriage under federal law? Is that your understanding?
DAN MCCANN: Not according [inaudible] laws, no.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay, because of the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act on the--
DAN MCCANN: Well I think the Massachusetts situation is much different, because Massachusetts was handed down by decree of the court.
Again, I'm not an attorney so I don't want to get into a legal conversation, but I think what has happened in Massachusetts is an anomaly to states' rights.
So, a court of five, I believe it was, made that decision for a population of over four million people. I don't think that's fair, do you?
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. And I understand that you're not an attorney, but you did say in your testimony, rather emphatically, that the federal government doesn't discriminate against homosexuals. And I just wanted to explore that a little bit more with you.
The other thing that you mentioned was that, if I recall your testimony correctly, was that the issue of marriage rights should be put up for a referendum vote. Is that correct?
DAN MCCANN: That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Can you name one or two examples of legislative actions, other than marriage, in the history of Connecticut which, in your opinion, should have been put up to a referendum vote?
DAN MCCANN: Should have or should not have?
SEN. MCDONALD: Should have.
DAN MCCANN: I think the income taxes. This was before I lived here, but, the income taxes went up for a referendum, wasn't it? Or there was something about the income tax vote? That should have been brought for referendum for the people of Connecticut to decide, I believe.
SEN. MCDONALD: I understand that that's your position. I understand you've had an opportunity to run for office a couple of times.
But how would you, if you were a legislator, how would you decide on an objective level what issues that you weren't capable of deciding as a legislator and which you would confer to the public to decide?
DAN MCCANN: I can answer that question very clearly. I think, when it comes to an emotional issue such as this subject, where it is divisive, the people should have a voice in it.
I get concerns when, if you want to say, the cards stack up against you. And this is a body that is not representative, really, of the people. We have Republicans across the state. We have Democrats.
But this is a [inaudible] majority of the House and the Senate. So I'm not really very comfortable with the idea that the fate of the definition of marriage would be clearly and fairly [inaudible] to the rest of the state.
I think a policy of this nature, that involves everybody, should be decided on a referendum. And I don't see why this Judiciary Committee or this legislature should be afraid of that at all.
SEN. MCDONALD: So if I understood your testimony correctly the decision, in your mind, the decision whether an issue should be put up to a referendum, not that we have the process in Connecticut, but if we did, would be based upon an emotional meter about the insensitivity of the issue?
DAN MCCANN: No, I wouldn't say the emotional. I think it goes far beyond emotions. I think it starts from an emotional point. But there's other things. There are severe ramifications of what we would do here.
On this Judiciary Committee, if you're going to redefine the definition of marriage and its lasting implications across public policy, religious institutions and even a section of the towns and governments that are inside the state, 169 towns. When it comes to religious liberties, that's a major issue.
Look what happens up in Massachusetts. What Mr. Brown testified about before. The Catholic Church in Massachusetts is now out of the adoption business. As a Roman Catholic myself, okay, nobody in my family has ever been adopted.
But I know that the Catholic Church has done many, many good things for people. My sister benefited from the Catholic Church. My sister's mentally handicapped.
If it weren't for the Catholic Church I may not even be sitting here right now. Because I was born into a catholic hospital.
So my fear would be that these institutions that we look to support, whether it's on a religious basis or not, would be attacked. Like they've been in Massachusetts.
I mean, if you look at the situation over in Waterbury, with Plan B, with public funding versus private funding.
I mean, this is something that this Judiciary Committee's going through right now. And I think that's a big issue that people need to be made aware of.
So it's not just an emotional issue. It's public policy and also public funding.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. You and I at least have in common that we were both born in catholic hospitals and raised as Roman Catholics.
Let me ask you, though, in your estimation then, this issue should be put up to a referendum?
Would it be fair to say that the death penalty and abortion rights and the Governor's income tax increase proposal, all of those issues should be put up to public referendum?
DAN MCCANN: I would say abortion and death penalty, probably not. But the income tax? Absolutely.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Thank you. Representative Geragosian?
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Just a quick point, on the federal discrimination laws, Connecticut had the foresight to afford protections for gays and lesbians in areas of housing discrimination, employment, and the like. But those protections do not exist in the federal law as I understand it.
DAN MCCANN: As a Town Councilman [inaudible] I voted on housing protections for gays and lesbians, I guess three or four times by now. So I'm very much aware of it.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Those protections don't exist in many other states, and they don't exist in federal law. Do they not?
DAN MCCANN: I'm not really privy, I don't know. I guess not. I don't know.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: You made a statement that the federal government doesn't discriminate.
DAN MCCANN: Well, let me retract that statement. Maybe I misspoke. I apologize. But I do know that in the State of Connecticut we are very progressive.
I know in the Town of East Haven, where I live, we are very progressive in that. So, you know, I don't really understand where your question is coming from. Other than the federal--
REP. GERAGOSIAN: You just made a statement that federal government doesn't discriminate in its law. And Senator McDonald brought up Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
And I'm telling you in housing and employment I don't believe there's protection on the basis of sexual orientation.
And a question that I've asked some others, you think this should go to referendum, you said. Do you think the civil rights laws of the south should have gone up for referendum?
DAN MCCANN: I've been waiting for you to ask me that question. And, no, I do not believe in that.
I don't believe that any of the civil rights movements or any of the civil right things should have went to referendum. But that was a basis of social, basis of economic, basis of visual discrimination. Visual discrimination.
Can you tell me, Sir, have you ever seen, or have you seen anybody visually discriminate someone who's Irish Catholic? Have you ever seen anybody discriminate on somebody who's African American?
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Yeah.
DAN MCCANN: Okay. So we have laws for every single one of those things? My other question to you, you're saying that gays and lesbians are not treated equally. There's law in the State of Connecticut that protect them in housing.
There's law of employment rights as well. So, I don't understand why we have to change the definition of marriage to make that equal. I don't understand that. It doesn't make any sense to me. Try to explain it to me.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Well, I think that goes back to the first point of your testimony. I think it was you. It's been such a long day. But you talked about how--
DAN MCCANN: I'm getting tired, myself.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: --you know, this is the issue. This is the issue where there's discrimination left. And this is why I believe we have to make this step. That's why.
The American Civil Liberties Union preceded you. And I think they have a pretty good idea what civil rights are. That is what they do for a living. So, that's my answer, I guess, to you.
DAN MCCANN: Let me ask you this question--
REP. GERAGOSIAN: The great part about this [inaudible]--
DAN MCCANN: Let me ask a question. Back in the 1950s, would a black man hold the position of a CEO? Would you even think about that?
Would a black man or a Spanish person hold the highest position inside of an organization? Probably not, right?
I can assure you today, Sir, in 2000, and I know that for a fact, that many gay and lesbians hold high positions in corporate companies. So that doesn't sound like there's economic discrimination there for me.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: I'm not saying there is. I'm saying there's discrimination in this one area that we're talking about today.
DAN MCCANN: Okay.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: That's clear.
DAN MCCANN: And I'm saying to you I don't believe this is a discriminatory issue.
REP. GERAGOSIAN: Okay. And that's where we disagree.
SEN. MCDONALD: Senator Gomes?
SEN. GOMES: Did you serve in the military?
DAN MCCANN: No I did not, Sir.
SEN. GOMES: Do you believe Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a proper edict for the military to have?
DAN MCCANN: I cannot speak on that because I am not a member of the military. However, I can tell you that my father, my uncles, and some of my cousins have served in the military, and when I speak to them they don't object to homosexuals being in the military.
SEN. GOMES: That's because it was a red herring. It never was a problem--
DAN MCCANN: No, my father served in Korea and World War II.
SEN. GOMES: I didn't serve during the war. But I was in Korea. I served from '58 to '63. For the five years I was in the army I served in personnel.
I have never seen any incident of homosexual people being tried, discharged and so on and so forth.
But if you talk about the federal government does not discriminate, they do discriminate. They army discriminates.
At that time there was not need for Don't Ask, Don't Tell because they lived in the barracks with us, we knew they were homosexual. They did their job and everybody was fine.
You know who they discriminated against? Pregnant women. Let a WAC get pregnant and she was discharged.
And I also remember, because I worked in personnel, under the paragraph number of the discharge, it was SPN, Special Paragraph Number 264. It was imbedded in my mind. Those are the discharges that were other than honorable that they'd given.
So, you can't say the federal government doesn't discriminate. The discriminate a lot. And that was a red herring when they did this Don't Ask, Don't Tell, because there was not need for it.
No soldier ever went and complained about another person being a homosexual or whatever. We worked together. We lived together. And if they went into battle your life depended on them
Like you said, there are 43,000 of them still in there. Guess where some of them are. They're in Iraq. Sitting in a foxhole with somebody.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Senator Gomes.
DAN MCCANN: Thank you very much.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? I just wanted to follow up on brief thing, Mr. McCann.
Representative Lawlor told me that you actually do hold, I hope I didn't misstate something, I said you had run for office. And apparently you hold office?
DAN MCCANN: Yes I do.
SEN. MCDONALD: What office do you hold?
DAN MCCANN: I am the Town Councilman in East Haven, Second District.
SEN. MCDONALD: And in your position as Councilman in East Haven, does the Town put its budget up for a referendum?
DAN MCCANN: It has referendum power. It can go to referendum.
SEN. MCDONALD: So, tax increases, do you put that up to referendum or anything like that?
DAN MCCANN: Well, as a matter of fact, that question actually came up last year with re-evaluation. Mr. Lawlor was actually a major part of that whole process.
In your campaign, you actually mentioned it a couple of times. That by signature there was referendum to stop our re-evaluation.
So when the signatures were brought to the Town Council, the Town Council made a decision to forego with re-evaluation and now we are actually facing re-evaluation for this year. So that was a referendum process. The people spoke.
SEN. MCDONALD: You have a referenda procedure set out in your charter, is that correct?
DAN MCCANN: That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: Can you identify for us anything in the Connecticut Constitution or the Connecticut State Statutes which permit for non-binding referendum?
DAN MCCANN: I would not be able to do so. I don't know Connecticut law that well.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. If there's nothing further, I appreciate your time, Sir.
DAN MCCANN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Matt Katz, followed by Anita Schepker. And I take it we are going to have a moment to take time out of this subject and move on to another bill for a moment.
MATT KATZ: I'm glad you said it, Chairman, and not myself. Good evening, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Judiciary Committee.
My name is Matthew Katz and I'm the Executive Director of the Connecticut State Medical Society.
On behalf of more than 7,000 members of the Connecticut State Medical Society I am here today in support of Senate Bill 1448, AN ACT EXTENDING THE STATE PHYSICIAN PROFILE AND RELATED MALPRACTICE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO CERTAIN OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS.
Today many patients seek information regarding providers' credentials, school training, and malpractice award settlements on the internet prior to choosing a healthcare provider.
The work that CSMS, the General Assembly, and several other stakeholders undertook in past sessions led to the development of a system where relevant information is provided and consumers, the patients, are appropriately educated about how it should be interpreted and used in making well-informed medical provider choices and decisions.
However, for healthcare providers other than the physicians, there is a lack of consistency in providing the information to the Department of Health.
This omission implies to patients that there are no similar patient safety concerns or issues with alternative healthcare providers.
As these alternative healthcare providers push to increase the scope and complexity of the services they provide to patients, we need to insure that these services are safely provided to patients and we need data of all providers in assisting to demonstrate this safety.
This legislation before you today will require the collection of appropriate information related to malpractice award settlements and decisions for healthcare providers who are required, by Connecticut statute, to carry malpractice insurance.
This will put all healthcare providers and professionals in Connecticut on equal footing and allow the public to more fully understand patient safety and quality in Connecticut. This will provide patients with critical information to guide their choices.
This legislation also will supplement Public Act 05-275 which established a process to collect information regarding awards, payoffs, and settlements in a manner that allows the state to more effectively evaluate the present professional liability crisis in the State of Connecticut for physicians.
This bill will allow the public to access pertinent information in a manner that is consistence for all healthcare providers.
As healthcare is focused on a team approach, information on a variety of members in the healthcare team needs to be available in a manner that is easy to comprehend and follows a familiar format of the physician profile in order for patients to make well-informed decisions about the care they are to receive through [inaudible] providers that currently, in this state, provide their care. We urge that you please support Senate Bill 1448.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony. I just want to be clear. The proposal that you're supporting would include extending the reporting for any medical professional who receives a license from the State of Connecticut.
MATT KATZ: Malpractice insurance, I believe--
SEN. MCDONALD: Malpractice is the trigger?
MATT KATZ: I think that malpractice is the trigger. We do believe that anyone providing medical care or healthcare in the state needs to be able to provide pieces of information so that patients can make well-informed decisions under the auspices of transparency.
SEN. MCDONALD: Just off the top of your head, do you know if there are any licensed professionals in the medical field who are not required to carry malpractice insurance?
MATT KATZ: It's a good question, Senator, and I do not know.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. We'll figure it out. Thank you very much. Are there any other questions? Representative Bye?
REP. BYE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. So I'm just trying to figure out where you're drawing the line here. So you're saying anyone who purchases malpractice insurance should need to report these claims to the Department of Public Health?
MATT KATZ: Some, we understand, currently may not be covered under the Department of Public Health. And I know that's a difficulty.
But we do believe anyone that's providing patient care in the State of Connecticut who has insurance should be, in fact, reporting.
REP. BYE: So you don't think anyone here is exempt? I mean, I'm looking at your list, obviously, you're supporting the bill.
MATT KATZ: You know, I don't believe so, and the intention was not to exempt anyone, again, providing patient care.
We believe, because of the, again, insurance coverage necessitating that in the state, would be covered by this. And we may have missed someone in our review.
REP. BYE: Okay. I have some concerns about how broadly this is defined. But we can talk about that later.
MATT KATZ: I do recognize that for certain healthcare providers and professionals there may be nuances where the reporting structure, exactly the way it is for physicians, may not work and we're amenable to that.
We just want to make sure that the public has clear information about the providers of care for which they are receiving care from, so that they make the decisions about the care and the providers. And I think we can work around those other nuances.
REP. BYE: Okay. One thing, maybe, and maybe you can direct me where to get this, I'd like so see is how often there are claims against the different types of providers to see how far, maybe, our scope should go.
MATT KATZ: I would think that some of the insurance carriers, liability carriers, would probably be better to provide that. But we can work with them to get it to you. But I don't readily have that available myself.
REP. BYE: Okay. Thank you very much.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anything further from Members of the Committee? If not, thank you.
MATT KATZ: Thank you very much for the opportunity.
SEN. MCDONALD: Anita Schepker? Followed by Ronald Discoto?
ANITA SCHEPKER: Good evening.
SEN. MCDONALD: Hold on one second. I just want to get the lineup so people know. Is Ronald Discoto around? Okay. Then, how about Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh? So you'll be next. Is Anna Heller here? Okay. Good evening.
ANITA SCHEPKER: Good evening, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor and Members of the Judiciary Committee. For the record, my name is Anita Schepker and I'm here, an attorney, tonight representing the Connecticut Psychological Association on Senate Bill 1448. And I just want to say I'm sorry that Dr. Bunk and/or Dr. Farber couldn't be here this evening.
And I have some limited scope of knowledge, but you have the written testimony of the Psychological Association. I just want to go over a few things.
First of all, the law doesn't define this by malpractice as you suggested. In fact, if you look under Section G where it says a psychologist licensed under Chapter 383, there are in fact psychologists licensed under that chapter who are not practicing with patients at all and have no patient interaction.
More importantly, I think, there are other mental health professionals who do carry malpractice insurance who aren't covered under this bill because they are licensed under other sections of the statute and they're not listed here.
And those would be Licensed Professional Counselors, Clinical Social Workers and Social Workers, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, School Psychologists and others are not included under this bill as well.
I think the psychologists would say two things. One, if you're going to include these kinds of mental health professionals, you need to include everyone.
If you're going to put together a profile of these kinds of providers, the profile has to be very specific, a little bit different than the medical model that you're using for doctors.
We don't have specialties. You know, psychologists don't have a special area. They are Ph.D. clinical psychologists but they don't necessarily have a specialty certificate or anything like that, that would be listed in a profile.
And I think also we have to look at the reality that psychologists do engage in things like group therapy, so they're dealing with groups and not always one-on-one.
Or, in the case of family therapy or in children's therapy we may be bringing in other siblings and family members. So it's not the sort of typical patient-doctor relationship.
And I just ask that when you consider looking at this if you're going to group the mental health professionals in this bill that maybe you at least set up their profile differently so that you understand what they're doing. And also include all the mental health professionals under the bill. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Than you. Are there any questions? Senator Kissel?
SEN. KISSEL: Anita, thank you so much for coming up, Ms. Schepker. Thank you for coming. I hear what you're saying there. Could you just get us your wish list of how we could modify the proposal?
ANITA SCHEPKER: I mean, I can get it back to the Committee.
SEN. KISSEL: I'd like to see what you'd like to see done--
ANITA SCHEPKER: Okay.
SEN. KISSEL: --regarding psychologists regarding this legislation.
ANITA SCHEPKER: And I'll get back to you. And I don't want to necessarily drag the other mental health professionals in here, but I think as Senator McDonald asked if the trigger is malpractice, you're missing some folks, and not just mental health professionals.
I think there's other quote healthcare providers that are probably missing from this bill.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Is there anything further from Members of the Committee? If not, you're more than welcome to offer your opinion about gay marriage.
ANITA SCHEPKER: My personal opinion? I'd be glad to.
SEN. MCDONALD: No, that's okay.
ANITA SCHEPKER: I will say this, that the Connecticut Psychological Association is meeting with Love Makes A Family in the near future.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Last call for Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh? Okay. I'm sorry. The person I wanted to say is Ronald Distoto here? Okay, if not, welcome.
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: Thank you. Today I have lived the Connecticut State Seal, where it says He Who is Transplanted is Sustained. I have been sustained through the day.
I want to commend my children who have been here since 10:00 this morning waiting for me to do this. And thanks to bumming money off friends and candy bars, we have survived.
There is nothing I can say that you haven't already heard, and so I won't say anything you've already heard. But I will go on the record to let you know that I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.
You all can talk circles around me. You have so many more credentials than I do. And if you want to know more about me, and if you're really curious, and you guys have your systems up and running, you can Google me. I found stuff out about me that I didn't even know was out there.
I have a really great quick one-pot chili recipe that's on there, if you want to check it out. So, if you want to know more about me, you're welcome to.
But there is nothing more that I can say. And, you know, I don't envy your job in the least. I ran for an office in my town. I found that, as a citizen, I could do more as a volunteer than I could as a politician. And so I live in Willimantic and that's where I carry on my business.
I have a proposition for a pilot idea. We can't do referendums all the time. So on days when there are hearings like this I propose that through whatever your communications systems are that the whole state knows the schedule of the things that are going up for public hearing. And by a mere phone call a person can express their opinion. Press one for yes, press two for no. Seems kind of easy.
I have the luxury of coming here. I don't have a full-time job. I can express my opinion. But it's just a simple idea, I guess.
And finally, with all due respect, and with my whole heart, I want you to know that laws don't change people's beliefs. They won't change your beliefs. They won't change mine.
Some of us will live and we'll die with our beliefs. And so you have to know, from the bottom of my heart, that changing words, changing semantics, changing these kinds of things, you cannot legislate belief. And so with that, that's how I will close.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, thank you very much. Thank you for your patience this afternoon.
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: Can you tell my husband I'm patient?
SEN. MCDONALD: Hopefully, he's watching on CT-N--
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: He's been calling me. I hear my phone buzzing like crazy.
SEN. MCDONALD: And I also thank you for the patience of your children. It's great to see them here. I appreciate you taking the time out and spending so much time here. And for sharing your deeply-held beliefs. I appreciate that.
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any questions? If not, you're more than welcome to leave your chili recipe. We're probably about due for some of that.
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much.
RUTH HARTUNIAN-ALUMBAUGH: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Anna Heller followed by Rachel Stratford, and then Fanny Morone. Good evening.
ANNA HELLER: Good evening. My name is Anna Heller. I'm a 39-year-old Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I was born and raised in Willimantic, Connecticut.
Growing up with a lesbian mom, I never would have thought that I'd be sitting in front of the State Legislature testifying about my life and the lives of millions of people who are fighting for marriage equality.
Back then, there were not books, no TV, no Ellen, no Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. In all the years that have passed so much has changed. Yet children who grew up in the families like mine continue to fight being stigmatized by a government that will not allow our parents to marry.
Nineteen years ago my sister and I, with four other people, co-founded COLAGE, Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere. Today, it is a national organization with over 12,000 members.
It's an organization that has chapters all over the country with pen pals, newsletter publications, activism, and supportive networks.
It is a privilege to be speaking here today on behalf of these wonderful children of same-sex parents. My work with COLAGE, in addition to my own life experience, gives me insight into how children in gay and lesbian families feel about marriage equality.
Can you imagine what it might be like for a child whose parents are not allowed to be married? It means not talking about very basic daily life events with friends.
This is how I grew up. Even today, with all the progress we have made, we are still told that we are not the same.
Marriage is an institution that is sanctioned by our community and culture. Children need to feel part of the community, supported, connected and completely accepted by society.
Children also need to feel that they have families that are just like everyone else. That our government recognizes, protects, and includes us too.
The fact that our families must use different language to describe our parents' relationship is so stigmatizing for us. The word partner does not carry the same meaning as spouse. I can tell you that these titles make a very big difference.
I baffled to be here today to be defending the rights of two people who love each other, to get the same civil rights and legal status of a man and a woman.
How does one explain to their children that the state forbids them to be married and refuses to recognize their family as worthy of all the rights and privileges of other families?
My mother taught me at a young age to treat others with respect, not to make assumptions about others, and to celebrate others' differences.
This has given me more gifts than I could ever put down on paper. I've had a richer and more loving life than many people that I know.
I would not change my life for anything. I just with the rest of society, and our government, would also recognize that my family deserves the same status, respect, and protections.
I am proud to have been raised by my mom, and I feel blessed by her love and support that have [inaudible] into adulthood.
But as a straight woman I have rights that my mother does not have. Even now, as an adult, I do not know how to sit with that.
My mother does not love any less or any different than I do or you do. And, after all, it's an issue of love. And I ask you to please consider these issues very carefully.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much.
ANNA HELLER: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. Are there any questions. Representative Bye?
REP. BYE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just a quick question, and you've been sitting here awhile here today.
What's your reaction when you read or hear somebody say that this is potentially very harming for children? Based on your experience, what's your reaction to that?
ANNA HELLER: It's something that I don't understand, having sat with literally hundreds and hundreds of children around this issue. Their struggle is that society doesn't accept their families, not that this is going to harm them.
This is the best thing that could ever happen to them. To not have to pretend that their family is different or have a different word for it.
I obviously have a very strong reaction, given that I've given so much time to this work and to the kids, that I've just seen them [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 5A to 5B.]
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your, oh, I'm sorry. Senator Gomes?
SEN. GOMES: Do you have children?
ANNA HELLER: I do not have children. I have a nephew.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony.
ANNA HELLER: Thank you very much.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is Rachel Stratford here? If Ms. Stratford isn't here, Fanny Morone? Fanny Morone? Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman? Rabbi Glickman? John Graness? John Graness? Stephen Lyon? Mr. Lyon? Brian Evalich? No? No Mr. Evalich.
Dr. Rob Zivoski? Mark Waxenberg? Mark Waxenberg? Mark Dost? Mark Dost? Father Ted Tumicki? After Father Tumicki is Joan Haugen here? Okay. You'll be next, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Mr. Chair, I believe Mark is here.
SEN. MCDONALD: Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Dost, I'm sorry, I didn't see you. Mr. Dost, then Father Tumicki, then Joan Haugen. Good evening, Sir.
MARK DOST: Good evening, House Chairman Lawlor, Senate Chairman McDonald and other Members of the Committee. My name is Mark Dost. I'm a resident of Waterbury and an attorney in private practice.
By way of credentials, I'm a member of the Executive Committees of the Estates and Probate Elder Law and Human Rights and Responsibilities Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and also past Chair of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association and a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
This evening I'm speaking in opposition to Raised House Bill 7395 and Raised Senate Bill 1449. The views I present are my own.
Like most other Connecticut residents I oppose same-sex marriage, and I see the issue not as a matter of civil rights, but rather as a matter of preserving our most important cultural institution.
However, because of the limited time that I have, I will focus my remarks this afternoon on Raised Senate Bill 1449.
From my statement of policy reasons in opposition to same-sex marriage, I respectfully direct the Committee to my 2004 article in the Connecticut Lawyer produced by the Connecticut Bar Association, a copy of which I've provided to the Committee. That article can also be viewed on the website for the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
Raised Senate Bill 1449 seeks to convert same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions into Connecticut civil unions.
This bill is an improvement over the bills introduced in the 2005 and 2006 sessions, which would have given same-sex couples willing to travel to Ontario for their marriage ceremony an easy method of circumventing Connecticut's policy limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman.
Although Raised Senate Bill 1449 does not contain that obvious vice found in the earlier bills, it nonetheless has one fundamental flaw and a number of technical flaws.
The fundamental flaw is that by permitting a foreign same-sex marriage to trigger legal incidents in Connecticut, the bill would impair the policy of this state limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
Same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions should continue to be treated as void under Connecticut law.
I've attached my remarks and a proposed substitute to Raised Senate Bill 1449 that would preserve that policy, but at the same time deal with the problem of Connecticut same-sex couples who have married in Canada or other jurisdictions and who now wish to obtain a judicial declaration voiding or annulling their marriage.
If, however, the Legislature and the Governor wish to convert same-sex marriages to civil unions and to follow the path of Raised Senate Bill 1449, the Legislature will need to address a number of technical defects found in Raised Senate Bill 1449.
First, the bill should contain an opt-out provision for Connecticut residents who are married in other jurisdictions. People should not be forced into a civil union if they do not want to be forced into a civil union.
My suggestion, allow either party to file an opt-out declaration with the Clerk of the town in which the party resides or, for non-residents, with the Secretary of State. Better yet--
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much for your testimony.
MARK DOST: Okay.
SEN. MCDONALD: Let me just ask you, the Attorney General, apparently, of New Jersey has written an opinion indicating that New Jersey would recognize a marriage performed in Massachusetts as a civil union in New Jersey. Apparently, under New Jersey law, that would be acceptable.
So it just seems like a matter of time before a couple who is married under Massachusetts law moves to New Jersey, has their marriage recognized as a civil union there, and then moves to Connecticut.
What happens in that scenario where, because we would acknowledge or recognize the civil union performed in New Jersey--
MARK DOST: That's right.
SEN. MCDONALD: --would you find that process objectionable for any reason under existing law?
MARK DOST: What would be happening is that we'd be breaking new ground. So that'd be an interesting case, because what happened was in Massachusetts, they were married, in your hypothetical?
SEN. MCDONALD: Yes.
MARK DOST: The move to New Jersey, New Jersey law treats it as a civil union. They then move to Connecticut. The question is what should Connecticut do?
My answer to that question is that answer should come from the Legislature. The Legislature has not dealt with this, and I believe the Legislature should deal with this.
I'm not opposed to the Legislature having a bill of this sort. I just believe that the Legislature has got to make the rules plain. And it also has to provide a mechanism for dealing with Massachusetts marriages, Ontario same-sex marriages, British Columbia same-sex marriages. And this bill does not deal with that at all.
It does not give same-sex couples who have married in Massachusetts the ability to terminate their status as married couples in Connecticut. By converting this to a civil union, and doing nothing else, this bill does not take care of that problem. And it needs to.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, that's what we do here. We propose bills, we solicit input from members of the public. You are being very helpful in that process, and we may take some of your ideas and maybe some other ideas and we'll go back and revisit that language and eventually modify that language.
But regardless of the technical language in the bill, I'm talking about, more globally, the public policy issue that we are faced with. And that is that we live in a transitory society, or transient society I should say, where people move from one community to another, one state to another, one country to another.
And it seems inevitable that we are going to have to recognize that there are same-sex marriages performed in other countries, so far in one other state.
And it seems somewhat incongruous that we would deny recognition of a Massachusetts marriage in Connecticut if that same marriage can make a pit stop in another jurisdiction, such as New Jersey, and then migrate over to Connecticut, and then we would recognize it through that process. Doesn't that seem a little convoluted and form over substance?
MARK DOST: No, the question is how do you want to do it? If you want to do it, it's kind of a heavy-handed approach, to take the couple that's been married in Massachusetts and then to tell them that they don't have a marriage in Connecticut, the have a civil union.
If they choose to go that route, that's fine. But it's heavy-handed for the Legislature to say that the couple that married in Massachusetts is now in a civil union in Connecticut. They may choose not to be in a civil union in Connecticut.
In the case of a civil union in Vermont, they've already made that decision. In the case of a civil union in New Jersey, they've made that decision. In the case of a domestic partnership in California, which is equivalent to civil union, they've made that decision.
But in the case of marriage, it's different. One of the speakers here, Ann Stanback, from Love Makes A Family, and I've spoken with Ann on many occasions in front of public groups.
The reason that she does not enter into a civil union, as she's explained in public, is that she's waiting for the day when she can call it marriage.
If she and her partner, or somebody like her, I shouldn't use Ann herself, but if somebody like her in Massachusetts entered into a marriage, then came into Connecticut and found out that Connecticut had converted their marriage to a civil union, I think some people would be upset about that.
So what I'm suggesting is a technical correction. Is to allow same-sex married couples from Massachusetts to come into Connecticut, or even if they're non-residents and working in Connecticut, have them file with Town Clerk, or in the case of non-residents Secretary of State, an opt-in provision saying that they choose to have their relationship, their same-sex marriage, treated as a Connecticut civil union for purposes of Connecticut law.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. And, I take it you would be opposed if we rewrote that piece of legislation and allowed those marriages to come into Connecticut as marriages?
MARK DOST: Why would you give greater rights to non-residents than to residents of Connecticut themselves?
So if you were going to recognize Massachusetts marriages, same-sex marriages, as marriages in Connecticut, but deny Connecticut residents the status of marriage, people would be scratching their heads wondering, you know, what the Legislature had in mind.
That was the vice of the bill last year, because that is what would have happened under the bill last year.
SEN. MCDONALD: So, I understand you offered what you say is a technical correction, where it would be an opt-in.
MARK DOST: That's right.
SEN. MCDONALD: Can you give me any other example where any marriage that's recognized by any state in the union is not recognized by another state in the union?
MARK DOST: I don't have any cases that come to mind. I'm thinking about Connecticut cases that have dealt with the issue of marriages that were considered void under Connecticut law.
There was a case that dealt with a marriage from Italy, and uncle and a niece who were married, because of special dispensation that had been given in Italy by the Vatican.
And the Connecticut Supreme Court under principals of [inaudible] refused to recognize that marriage because it violated the strong public policy of Connecticut.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's not a public policy. That's a statute. We have four categories of marriages in Connecticut that are void. And consanguinity is one of those void categories.
MARK DOST: I'm not sure it calls it void, but the Connecticut Supreme Court that it was void as a matter of public policy.
SEN. MCDONALD: The statute says it's void.
MARK DOST: It uses the word void?
SEN. MCDONALD: It's a void marriage. Marriage of somebody under the age of 16 is void. I can't remember all four of them. But, the gender of the individuals who are married is not one of the four categories.
MARK DOST: Then it supplied, I guess, an example of an instance. Let's say it was not void in the State of Nevada. And then they came to Connecticut. Connecticut law would treat that marriage as void and would not recognize that marriage.
First cousins can marry in the State of Connecticut. I don't believe that they can marry in a number of other states. Perhaps those other states would treat a marriage of first cousins in Connecticut as being void. Those would be examples.
And another technical defect that we talked about is that the bill should also not apply to individuals whose marriages were same-sex unions, because the bill talks about legal unions, had been dissolved. Nor, to those whose union was illegal or void at the time they entered into their union.
So, the bill needs a certain amount of work, and I've made some suggestions and drafted a substitute bill.
And also an alternative proposed substitute to the bill, which would preserve much of the language of the existing bill, but correct some of these technical defects.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there other questions from Members of the Committee? If not, I appreciate your time.
MARK DOST: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Reverend Tumicki followed by Joan Haugen. I'm sorry, I said Reverend. Father Tumicki.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am Father Ted Tumicki. I am the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in the Occum section of Norwich.
I am a theologian, canon lawyer, and Bishop's Delegate for Safe Environments for the Diocese of Norwich. And I am speaking in opposition to House Bill 7395.
My reasons for opposition are several, however, with time constraints I will limit myself to three. First, as an integral part of society, marriage has always included a biological aspect. That is, the procreation and education of children. And the proposed bill leaves out this aspect.
A second reason for opposition is the inadequate definition of marriage within the proposed bill.
Marriage is a union of different kinds of love, most notably a love of neighbor, as manifested in the genuine and active concern for the well being of another human being, as well as a sexual procreative love.
The present debate and proposed bill tends to separate the two aspects and harms that understanding of marriage. There are already enough marriages failing in society because of the lack of proper understanding and integration without the proposed bill adding to this phenomenon.
A third reason for opposition has to do with the age of eligibility listed in the bill and its references to Statute 46B-30 concerning marriage of minors.
In light of the issue of sexual abuse of minors and the existence of organizations such as NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, quite frankly I am shocked that this provision is even included.
Organizations such as NAMBLA continually lobby to have the age of consent lowered so that adults ages 18 and older can engage in sexual activity with minors under the age of 18.
The proposed bill continues to allow the possibility of an adult and a minor to marry, thereby engaging in sexual activity with the legal sanction of the state.
My shock deepens and turns to intense questioning when I consider the history of the civil union law as compared with the proposed bill.
Legislative transcripts from April of 2005 indicate that the intent of the then-proposed bill was to parallel the marriage statutes. In the House debate, an amendment was added to eliminate the exception for minors to enter into a civil union, and which passed 126 to 22.
Our society has learned that any time an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor, it is abuse. And the proposed bill not only allows for abuse to occur, but continues to give it legal sanction.
Why is the standard for marriage not being raised to the higher standard found in civil union law?
And why is the Connecticut General Assembly even considering a bill that would continue to make legal some forms of sexual abuse of minors?
In this day and age, I find such a position to be unconscionable. And for these reasons, I urge you to vote against the proposed bill. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Father. Let me just ask you, to your point about minors. Are you aware of what our statutes say for the eligibility of heterosexuals to get into marriages under our law? The ages for that?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: The ages, it is 18. But Statute 46B-30 points out that there are exceptions to that. If you'd like I can quote it, but--
SEN. MCDONALD: And one of those exceptions is with the consent of the parents, right?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: A parent or guardian. Except if they're born outside of the country.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm glad you've done your homework. It moves things along. And one of the other exceptions is with a court order by a probate judge.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: By a probate judge, correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So a heterosexual marriage can take place for someone between the ages of 16 and 18, correct?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: And I think it says, actually under 16.
SEN. MCDONALD: And under 16? It can even go as far as that? But we're talking about, under existing law for heterosexual marriages, it's not the age of 18 as it exists for civil unions.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: Correct. Okay. So, are you advocating against the existing marriage laws we have for the age of marriage?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: In this day and age I would say yes, I would like to see it age 18 across the board without any exceptions.
The reason for that, even though that the stipulations of a parent or guardian giving consent as well as a judge of probate, in our sex abuse education, the prevention education that we have all been undergoing, we are discovering a lot of people missed the warning signs.
They don't know what to look for. They don't follow up. They don't report. And I don't think in this day and age it's prudent to allow someone who is a minor to even enter the possibility of engaging into a sexual relationship with an adult.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. And that's not from a theological perspective, that's from a public policy and social perspective? Or is it both?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I would say all of it.
SEN. MCDONALD: All of it. Okay. So, if we were to agree that no marriages, whether heterosexual or homosexual, could exist for anybody under the age of 18, would that resolve one of your main concerns?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes, it would resolve on of the main concerns.
SEN. MCDONALD: So once we remove that concern, what's your next concern?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, the first concern that I mentioned was that marriage has always included a biological aspect. That is the procreation and education of children.
SEN. MCDONALD: How long have you been a priest?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Ten years.
SEN. MCDONALD: Have you always married people who are still capable of procreating? Or have you ever married somebody who's past the age of procreation.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, I've always married people who were still of an age to be able to procreate.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Are you aware that your colleagues have married people beyond the age of child-bearing?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So that's not the only criteria for determining whether or not to allow somebody to get married. At least in your faith tradition?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, except that what we're looking at is that it is an openness to the possibility of being able to procreate.
I mean, as much as we say, okay, they're past the age by which they could procreate, we read in the newspapers and everywhere that, surprise, they're pregnant.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Well, I--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: So, that's why it's more the openness rather than saying it's strictly [inaudible] procreation.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. I happen to know a couple who were both, one was widowed the other was a widower, in their seventies and they got married. I suspect they weren't contemplating the prospect of procreating in their 70s.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Probably not.
SEN. MCDONALD: Probably not. So, but I understood that their marriage was both legal under civil law and sanctified under their faith tradition. So do we agree that a widow and a widower in their 70s can get married in your faith tradition?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: So, the procreation aspect of it isn't the sole determining aspect of that potential marriage.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, it is not the sole determining factor. There are other factors.
SEN. MCDONALD: So we've eliminated age, if we can agree that everybody would be above 18 years of age. And we've eliminated as a sole determining factor at least the potential for child-bearing. What else is left?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Because then I also point out that there is the, really the inadequate definition of marriage within the proposed bill. It's a union of various kinds of love. For example, we hear of Love Makes A Family. Well, what do we mean by love?
There's love of country, love of flag, love of state, you love your job, you love chocolate, you love your wife, you love your partner, you love your children. There are different aspects there.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. But forgetting the name of the grassroots organization that you're talking about, Love Makes A Family--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I meant that more as a [inaudible].
SEN. MCDONALD: What in the definition in the bill do you find objectionable to the definition of marriage?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: What I'm seeing here is that we have this realty that is marriage. And the bill is not really reflective of that. And, quite honestly, the bill is actually changing the meaning of marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. I don't know how long--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: It's changing the definition of marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: I understand that.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: That's what it's doing.
SEN. MCDONALD: Understood. Forgive me, Father, I don't know how long you have been sitting here, but, earlier in the public hearing I made mention of a couple I know in my district who have been together for 48 years. A same-sex couple. How would you characterize that relationship?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: They're a committed couple.
SEN. MCDONALD: And are they worthy of the protections of civil law?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, my question is, is what exactly do w mean by protections of civil law? If we're talking about the granting of rights, for example we have people sitting here today who are talking about the right to access healthcare. The right to have healthcare.
The right that when they go and visit a loved one in the hospital that they don't have to go through some regulations that are going to hold them up to immediate access. If we can address that in other areas, then we're addressing the issues.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So, and I understand that you disagree with the notion of the marriage, or the definition of marriage that's proposed here.
Do you agree that that couple that I just mentioned, after 48 years, should be eligible to enter into a civil union in Connecticut?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, that's what the law in the state is.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm asking your opinion.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, again if we have other means of granting the rights and the benefits that they're seeking, I think that's a way of doing it.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Just a couple more questions, now. I was raised as a Roman Catholic. You're a Roman Catholic priest.
As I understand it, this is more your bailiwick than mine so please correct me if I'm wrong, as I understand it when you perform a marriage, you are doing so because of the authority that you have as a priest of the Roman Catholic church, conferring the sacrament of marriage upon a man and a woman. Is that correct?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Is that the only understanding here?
SEN. MCDONALD: No, I'm asking, in the Roman Catholic tradition, when you perform a marriage you're conferring the sacrament of marriage upon a man and a woman. Is that correct?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes. And it's more.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Please tell me.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: There are civil effects that go with the marriage. Because I have to sign a marriage license. And, quite honestly, the state regulates when I can perform a marriage without sanction.
SEN. MCDONALD: That was my next question. But we do agree, at least, that the sacrament of marriage is something specific that you are doing within the faith tradition of Roman Catholicism. Correct? That's one part of what you do?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Except it's one ceremony with two sets of effects.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm talking about one side of it. We're going to get to the second side.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, but see, here's the thing, I would say yes and no. It's an intertwined issue.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: And the reason, again, it's because it's not like I do two separate wedding ceremonies. I marry them with the sacramental rite which has civil effects.
SEN. MCDONALD: Fair enough. But your authority to perform a marriage doesn't depend on the State of Connecticut as a priest. You have the authority to marry somebody in Rome. Don't you?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I would have to check the civil law in Italy. And the reason I state that is because I know priests who have gone to the Commonwealth of Virginia and they needed permission of the state in order to do it. So there was that regulation there.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm asking in your faith tradition. A priest can perform a Roman Catholic marriage, not a civil marriage, a Roman Catholic marriage anyplace in the world where there's a Roman Catholic church. Correct? With the approval of the Archbishop or the Pope.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I would need the delegation or the permission of the local pastor. I would also have to make sure that the parties to the marriage were able to be married within the church.
SEN. MCDONALD: Understood. But your authority to do so emanates from the fact that you're a priest, correct?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, not entirely.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: And the reason I make that distinction, as I just said, I need the permission of being able to do that.
SEN. MCDONALD: By the pastor?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: By the local pastor. Now, if I go ahead and do it, it does not invalidate the sacrament but it's just that for the purposes of church law, I'm not able to do that.
SEN. MCDONALD: Maybe we'll get there a different way. Your authority to marry somebody in Rome or in Argentina or in Spain doesn't depend on the authority conferred upon you by the State of Connecticut, does it?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No. That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's one thing. Okay. So my question, then, is why, since you are not compelled to solemnize a civil marriage under state law in your faith tradition, why do you intermingle that civil aspect with the sacrament that is your authority under the Roman Catholic theology?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I'm not sure I'm understanding the question.
SEN. MCDONALD: Could you perform a marriage here in the State of Connecticut and say I'm only going to perform a Roman Catholic marriage and I want you to go down to Town Hall and have the Town Clerk perform the civil marriage?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Not without sanction by the state.
SEN. MCDONALD: Not without sanction.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: And there's a fine within the statutes. In other words, if the state law stipulates that if I do it without the authorization or without following state law, that there is a fine.
SEN. MCDONALD: There's a fine if you choose not to marry somebody civilly?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, you asked if they, let me see if I understood this correctly. Perhaps I misunderstood. I understood you to say that if someone came to me and wanted me to marry them, and I married them and then said go down to the City Hall and get a license, did I understand that correctly?
SEN. MCDONALD: No.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I'm sorry.
SEN. MCDONALD: My question was you can perform a Roman Catholic marriage in your parish and do so without also solemnizing a civil marriage under state law. Isn't that correct?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Without solemnizing--
SEN. MCDONALD: You don't have to sign the marriage license issued by the Town Clerk, do you?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: If I am doing the marriage ceremony and they are not already civilly married, then I am obligated to sign the marriage certificate.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. I'll flip it around then. The couple goes down to Town Hall and gets married by a Justice of the Peace.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. Now they've come to you and they want to be married in the Catholic Church. You have the authority to perform that marriage in the Catholic Church, don't you?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: If they are able to be married, yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So they are, to your original point, I just want to be clear, when you are performing a marriage in most circumstances, you are performing, in fact, two ceremonies at once. For administrative convenience. Isn't that true?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, it's one ceremony with two effects.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. All right.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I'm sorry to be technical. This is the canon lawyer in me.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's fine. I'm just trying to understand the position. There are two effects. What are the two effects?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, one is it's a civil recognition of marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: All right.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: They are civilly married. And they are also married within the church.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. So there are two marriage effects when you perform the ceremony.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes you could say that. Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: But you're not required, as we've just learned, you're not required to perform both of them. One can be performed by a Justice of the Peace and you could perform just the other.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes, as long as it's active as civil.
SEN. MCDONALD: I appreciate your testimony, Sir. Representative Morris?
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Father Tumicki, help me out if you can. Help all of us out here. One of your points was that there's an inadequate description of marriage in the current legislation.
Help us to understand. I think Senator McDonald was trying to get to the, explain for all of us what the definition of marriage is according to Roman Catholic canon.
And I'll give you a Part B. You choose whether to answer to Part B now or let it be a follow-up. Part B will be how does this description conflict with the description in our bill. First help us all to understand what is marriage according to the Roman Catholic canon.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. It is between a man and a woman. It is for the good and benefit of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children. Its properties are unity and indissolubility.
REP. MORRIS: That's a mouthful.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes.
REP. MORRIS: I couldn't write all those notes fast enough.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Want me to repeat it?
REP. MORRIS: Please.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The ends of marriage are the good and benefit of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. And the properties are unity and indissolubility.
REP. MORRIS: And marriage, as Senator McDonald says, within Catholicism is considered a sacrament? Is it considered a sacrament?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes. If it's done within the church.
REP. MORRIS: How many sacraments are there within the Catholic Church?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Seven.
REP. MORRIS: There are seven? Are they equal in value?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I would say yes and no. Yes, they're sacraments. However, the entry to be able to receive the others is baptism. And then Eucharist is held up as the summit and source of the life of the church and all that it does.
REP. MORRIS: Give us some history. What, within Catholicism, helped make the determination that marriage is a blessed sacrament?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, they looked at things such as the relationship between husband and wife. They looked at things such as the relationship that Jesus Christ has to the church. Those were really the main points.
REP. MORRIS: And I, being a minister as well, the relationship between Jesus and the Church. How does that relate to marriage? And maybe not just Catholics but Christians in general?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. Well, Jesus certainly loves the Church limitlessly and lays down his life for the Church. And then with the Church being united in a relationship with Christ, for example one of the images of the Church is the bride of Christ, then it is a church that is growing.
REP. MORRIS: Church is the bride.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: That's one of the images that we use to describe the Church.
REP. MORRIS: Are gender roles somehow important theologically for Catholics, for Christians? I'll kind of lead you and guide you a little bit, to Ephesians the fifth chapter.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I would say absolutely because what we have to understand, and actually I'm going to refer to a theologian from Britain, Janet Martin Soskice, who had indicated that we have to pay attention to the gender terms used to describe the relationship that God has to the people. And His people. And the relationship that God has to His church.
They are communicated within the context of a particular culture and we have to have a proper understanding of what that means within the culture and, very significantly, of how God, perhaps, enhances the meaning within that culture.
For example, if we're talking, for example, let's say the Church is the bride of Christ. We're not talking simply as the idea of a bride who is the property of the groom.
We're talking about, really, a much stronger bond than simply a thing. We're talking about a lived relationship.
REP. MORRIS: Certainly relationship. The reason I'm kind of taking this line of questioning, because we've struggled all day, or I think we've pretty much come to the point that we've moved a lot of the issues off the table as it relates to benefits. But it's this label. It's this term.
So that's what I'm trying to get into. Where Catholic canon is, because I believe that the Catholic Church is the largest religious affiliation within the entire United States of America.
Does the understanding that we just walk through it, the relationships between Jesus Christ and the Church and all that understanding?
How well do Catholics understand that? How well do they hold dear to that? And how much of that is a part of what we're struggling with today?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: The understanding would vary a little bit, depending upon which Catholics you talked with. They would understand marriage as being between a man and a woman, ordered toward the good and benefit of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children.
And we would go so far as to say that you separate those two, you don't have marriage. It's something else.
REP. MORRIS: Does the Catholic Church at all, I heard that argument, I think, at one point today, I think it was through Brian from Connecticut Family Institute, does the Catholic Church at all potentially see this as a rights issue with the marriage being a sacrament?
I've heard, at the very beginning of the day, some of our speakers talking about historically the traditions that it was between a man and a woman.
And between cross-cultures and cross religion. So speaking specifically for your faith, your denomination, does the Catholic Church, I hate to use the work ownership, of a term, but feel that it might be any infringement or overreaching of government to redefine what marriage is.
Because you start out, your second point had to do with our definition of marriage. And that's why I asked you what your definition of marriage is. And we've heard all day long historically what those definitions are. You're a lawyer.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I would argue that that this would have far-reaching effects, because in Catholic schools the state certainly imposes certain standards for education. So are we going to infringe there? Maybe.
Is it possible that at some point state law may say, sorry because you have this civil capacity as a priest you have to marry them? They could.
We're asking for to establish something for the future. And, you know, I'd love to be able to, we've had legislators say that, well, we're not going to be forcing this.
And my response is well, maybe not yet. But I can't say for the future. I'd love to be able to trust you on that. But I can't.
Thirty years ago contraception for a rape victim wasn't an issue. It is today. And there's proposals to infringe upon religious freedom.
And I think historically the state has always infringed upon religious freedom to one degree or another. And I think going back to the whole understanding of me having to sign a marriage license, that's part of it.
I get nervous with this because we're asking for a future condition and it's like, you know, I can't say anything about a future condition definitively.
Because we don't know, I mean it's fine if you and I agree on something, but what about the people after us?
REP. MORRIS: That's interesting. So if I understand you correctly there's some level of distrust created because when we legalized abortion, somehow, when we came out with this Plan B pill and we're forcing the Catholic churches to do what is, as I understand, in their mind to be chemical abortion.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I'm using that as an example of how, as much as we want to say right now that you're not going to be forced to do it, we're trying to establish a future stipulation there. Which I don't think that we can make definitively.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you very much for your testimony and helping us to understand the relationships between Christ and the Church, Roman Catholic law. Is there any other observation that you can give us based on, how many years have you been [inaudible]--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I've been ordained ten years.
REP. MORRIS: Ten years. Do you get involved in counseling at all?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: In counseling?
REP. MORRIS: One-to-one counseling? Individuals?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I do usually when I have a couple that's seeking marriage counseling, I refer them to a professional after the first meeting. However, I do meet with couples before they do get married.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Thank you very much for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Representative Fox?
REP. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Father, and good evening, and thank you for the time you've spent here today.
All of this, you know, the discussion on the Catholic definition of marriage and then what your role is during that whole process of marriage.
I want to just ask you, however, do you distinguish at all between the state definition of marriage and the sacrament of marriage as you perform it?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: In other words, like when I'm preaching about marriage? Do I understand you?
REP. FOX: No, no, when you perform a ceremony.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, it's one ceremony.
REP. FOX: Okay. But there are some people who are married who are not catholic. And those are recognized marriages. Is that right?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Correct.
REP. FOX: Do you distinguish at all between those marriages and the marriages that you perform?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: You mean the ones that are married civilly?
REP. FOX: Yes.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I would certainly reference that they are married.
REP. FOX: Okay. What I'm trying to do is get out of the, I'm trying to separate the religious definition from the state definition. I'm going through that in my own mind.
And I know there is a difference to me between being married in the Church and being married with a Justice of the Peace.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, there certainly is a difference and its distinction when you're considering it from a sacramental viewpoint. Or someone is married outside of the Church. There is that distinction.
But if I'm talking about, you know, if couple A is married and couple B is married, we're looking at it from the point of view that it's a man and a woman and yes, they are civilly married.
REP. FOX: Okay. And now if you look at the civil marriage and the civil union that we currently have. Is there a distinction in those definitions?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Yes there is. Because within the existing statutes as contrasted with the bill, marriage is defined as between a man and a woman and in the civil union bill the civil union is defined as between two people of the same sex.
REP. FOX: Is there any other distinction besides that?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Between the two? Yes, I would argue that the one distinction that there is the limitation that I pointed out in Point three of my argument. I'll just cut to the chase on that one. That was the age of eligibility.
REP. FOX: The minors? Yes, okay. I'm not asking you to make an argument so much. I'm just asking for an explanation. I'm trying to get to the best argument that does not involve the religious definition.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I think that I would go back to the whole understanding of the ends of marriage being for the good and benefit of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.
And a lot of people see it that way. And that is the definition. That is the lived reality within a society.
And, quite honestly, again, if you separate those two, it's not marriage. And what we're debating here within the bill is that it's changing the definition of marriage. If there's a change in the definition, that's what happening.
REP. FOX: And that would be the secular argument as opposed to a religious argument. I mean, it can be difficult to distinguish. I sometimes have a difficulty distinguishing.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I think the question is, is that [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 5B to 6A.]
--if we say that because, or that we should respect one another. Now we can have a philosophical argument. We can have a theological argument. We can approach the issue from two different sides.
Does that mean, then, we have to draw a distinction between philosophy and theology and somehow reach a different consensus for why we should respect each other?
My point is, is that you do have, as much as we have a religious understanding it also coincides with a secular understanding of what marriage is for the vast majority of people.
And, again, some will tend to separate those aspects. But then, again, that's not marriage. It's some other kind of relationship.
REP. FOX: There are some here who are not Catholic who have to find another basis for their own argument if they're going to make, you know, come up with their own position.
And I would assume that they're going to find some other basis that may not involve a religious aspect. And I'm trying to get to that. I am Catholic, so--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I understand that. One of the things that I found very interesting is that supposedly when the founding fathers were debating how to frame the constitution, some were approaching arguments with more of a perspective of religion, others were not.
And they were kind of having this argument as to, well, which one should triumph. And they kind of realized we're talking about the same thing.
REP. FOX: Okay. I was thinking, when John Kennedy first ran for president back in 1960, and there was concern about him being the first Catholic potentially elected to become president.
And he felt compelled to give a speech how he would, you know, his religious orders came from the Vatican but his public servant duties came from the Constitution and the laws of the country.
And I guess I don't know if things have changed since then that we have to come up with our own justifications in terms of how we define all of this. So, thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Father, let me just ask you, actually, and this is a line of questioning that Representative Lawlor had asked others.
But I just want to be clear that under the Roman Catholic faith, if I understand the teachings of the Church correctly, that the mere existence of homosexuality is considered to be intrinsically evil and inherently disordered. Is that your understanding?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: As I understand it there is distinction made between feelings and actions. If you have a feeling of attraction to someone, where's the moral value in that?
When you act on it, that's when the moral value starts to enter the picture. There is this distinction between the actions and the feelings.
SEN. MCDONALD: My only reason for asking is that if it's true that your belief system leads you to the conclusion that the Catholic Church ended up at, that homosexuality is intrinsically evil and objectively disordered, I'm just trying to figure out how you can square that with you prior statement that there should be some level of recognition of same-sex couples in civil unions. You definitely didn't want it to be marriage. I got that part.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, it's not marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: But if it is, in fact, intrinsically evil and objectively disordered, how do you square that faith belief with your prior statement that there should be some recognition or accommodation under civil law for homosexual couples.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. I don't remember saying that there should be some sort of recognition. I believe I said that if there was a question of rights and benefits being conferred, are there other means of doing that.
And my point with that, for example, within Catholic social teaching, healthcare and access to healthcare is a human right. That applies to everybody. If we look to, say, a right to education. It applies to everybody.
So when I'm saying that there's some, you know, I didn't say recognition. I said that if there's a way of conferring rights and benefits in another means, if they're upholding and fulfilling human rights, then that makes sense.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Is there anything further? Senator Kissel.
SEN. KISSEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I just called, I went to my office to say goodnight to my two little guys, Nathaniel who's 11 and Tristan who's three, and they're flipping between Sponge Bob and this hearing. Which would make for some interesting TV, I'm sure. Oh, boy. My poor little guys.
I'm trying to, and I think a lot of the previous speakers did this as well. I appreciate you coming here. You are a citizen of the State of Connecticut and your views matter just like everybody else's views.
But we've gotten bogged down in race issues. We've gotten bogged down in religious issues. I mean, as if the whole sexual orientation isn't enough to put our arms around.
And if you go back a couple of generations I, like so many other folks in here raised Catholic, but I had great-grandparents or grandparents who were Baptists.
Somewhere, probably if you go back England, First Church England, which is Episcopalian here. On the Russian side, Russian Orthodox.
So there's a whole mix behind me and so I'd like to try to take the whole religious aspect away. Because every religion has their notions of marriage and their own special ceremonies regarding it.
Unlike, and I don't want to go into battle with my friend and colleague Senator Gomes regarding race and civil rights, but this is a very interesting issue in that all of the rights have been conferred pretty much up to today.
And I want to set aside the next step in the process, which is getting standing for the federal court challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act.
If marriage passes in Connecticut, then folks can get married and then bring those lawsuits if they want. So that's in the future.
We have all the rights conferred right up to now. And so today's sort of battle is just about a term. And I hate to see so much frustration and problems about a term.
And it's just the term marriage. And the folks that want to protect it feel that it's very important. And the folks want it feel that it's important as well.
Same-sex couples. They want that term. So that term, it's like a soccer ball, and boom-boom-boom, back and forth, back and forth.
And to my mind, if we take the entire religious aspect out, just take it out of there, then fundamentally I think it once again comes down to that children's issue.
Because we can't confer any extra rights as the State of Connecticut than we already have. And
Senator McDonald sort of went along the path of, well, it's okay to get married if both people are 80 years old and there's no possibility of childrearing.
And at the same time, we had ample testimony from folks that children of same-sex couples are no worse off than any other children. That they're just fine. There was also some testimony from a psychologist saying, no, no, no. The jury's still out on that.
And I'm personally torn by the issue. I know how my district feels about this. Very traditional. I would say heavily Catholic. But, you know, Enfield and north central Connecticut's where the first Great Awakening took place in the 18th Century.
Jonathan Edwards gave his sinners in the hands of an angry God sermon probably walking distance from my house. And so it doesn't matter the religious sects.
But north central Connecticut's got a lot of very, what I would consider, traditional either Catholic or Protestant folks.
So is your view that the ideal, and I think somebody said the gold standard and I'm a little hesitant to use that, because I don't want anything to be construed as disparaging same-sex couples. But is that ideal a man and a woman for purposes of rearing a child?
That's not to say every man and a woman are going to be great moms and dads. There's terrible ones. Abusive ones. Very, very bad. That's not to say that a same-sex couple can't be wonderful parents, whether it's two women or two men.
But what we deal with here is aspirational as much as anything else. And sort of the dilemma that I come down to, and I'm trying to get to the point where my district sort of is, is that in so many other areas of our culture, and what's considered progressive, and what's considered an evolving society, and what's considered more civilized or moving in that direction is diversity.
We celebrate diversity. We celebrate diversity in our legislature. We like to have people from all walks of life and all races and all ethnicities.
Yet my dilemma is, when it comes down to this debate about the term marriage, diversity seems to be thrown out the window and that it's not important.
And it's the, especially as it pertains to men in a marriage setting, that their lack of being a role model, that there's an awful lot of empirical data that suggests that that works a hardship on children.
That if it's just a single mom raising that child, whether it's not necessarily just financial, but the lack of a male role model seems to have negative consequences.
So the fundamental question that I have regarding should we expand who can lay claim to the term we're married and, that's sort of what this is all about today, is do you feel that that father and mother family unit is the ideal and what society should sort of safeguard as the aspirational goal.
Or do you feel, and this doesn't mean that you get to accepting the fact that marriage should now be applied to same-sex couples, but do you feel that a same-sex couple, a loving couple, can raise a child and that that child will be as well-grounded and productive and viable and warm and caring and loving adult? As other folks have come and testified?
Because that's one area where I am hearing different information. The other things seem to be misconstruing what the debate is and getting sidetracked on different issues.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: The first thing that I'll say is that I hear a distinction being made there between marriage and childrearing. And you heard the testimony, I've heard the testimony here today. We have people on all sides of the issue.
I have not studied that issue enough to issue a truly informed opinion on that. And you ask me to lay aside the religious portion of that.
SEN. KISSEL: Well, I have to because Chairman McDonald and Chairman Lawlor are pulling up Vatican Encyclicals and it's got this definition.
And I'm going to be honest. There's just nowhere in my heart of hearts do I feel that people that are same-sex in same-sex relationships are inherently evil or disorganized or whatever those definitions are.
I just can't get there. I have friends, I consider folks friends, that embrace that lifestyle and that's okay.
What I'm trying to do is sort of chart out where the best public policy should be, and it's a very, and I had indicated earlier, I think the horse is a little bit out of the barn. Or it's out of the barn, or it's not out of the barn.
But when we began this debate, when Love Makes A Family decided to go and pursue this, I have to credit Ann Stanback and the whole group. Very methodical, very step-by-step. And my position heretofore has been pretty consistent.
But here we are today, and as it is today, it's just this fight over this one word. And so what I'm saying is that what would be so wrong about allowing same-sex couples to call themselves married if, in every other aspect of our laws as it pertains to Connecticut, they are. I think I had indicated a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
What it is, is what it is. If I say chair, everybody in this room sort of knows what a chair is. It may be different for folks. So they are in all respects married except for that last little one inch over the finish line, the work.
And that's what we're holding back as a state. We're holding back that work. And I'm saying, what's the big downside by allowing them to call themselves married?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, one aspect of that is that there is also a huge historical reality here. That we're talking not simply something that is within the State of Connecticut and the Connecticut Colony before that, but really throughout civilization, is that marriage has always been between a man and a woman and has always included the procreation and education of children as one of its ends.
SEN. KISSEL: And, again, that's why I want to jump in--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: [inaudible]
SEN. KISSEL: I'm sorry, but that's why I want to jump in. Because you're going back to the children and that's where I keep sort of zooming in on, is the children. Because I have the deepest, most abundant respect for the historical record.
But, to be frank, you know, there was once upon a time where Copernicus said to the Catholic Church, hey folks, I don't think the earth is the center of the universe.
And there were others that followed suit in the scientific community and they were vilified. And excommunicated. And it caused great schisms. Schisms. However you want to pronounce it. I think both are appropriate.
So historically, there's been permutations throughout time. And I think the Church has actually done a good job of sort of modifying some of its teachings over the years such that I think that I read somewhere that the institution of the papacy is the longest continuous institution in the man's history.
That's sort of been there for 2,000 years. Up and downs, but. It was a lecture by a Notre Dame professor, so if it's wrong, blame them.
So, again, you keep going back to the importance of childrearing and, I think we sort of have to come to the point of can same-sex couples be as good in childrearing or are we saying marriage is sort of going to be kept over here for man and woman couples because that's the ideal because it's a diverse group, a man and a woman, and that is better for child because there's two different kinds of role models.
And I don't know that answer to that. But that sort of seems to be where objectively, taking all the other stuff out of the equation, other than the sort of historical, we've been doing this for thousands of years, argument comes down to.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. In response to that, again, there is a distinction, not in a complete separation, I'm really sounding like a theologian, between the aspect of childrearing and the procreation of children.
Because it's one man, one woman uniting sexually, conjugally, and bringing forth new life, and that is a distinction that's part of life, that's part of reality.
You're talking two different realities here. And we're trying to say that this over here, which is the love between man and woman, it's marriage.
But suddenly we're going to try to change that to include this. Well, I think what's happening is that, it sounds to me like you're trying to change a definition to include two things and equate two things that are fundamentally different.
SEN. KISSEL: Well--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I don't see how you can call two things that are fundamentally different equal. When it comes down to those distinctions.
SEN. KISSEL: Okay. And I'm with you to the extent that procreation can only be by a man and a woman. But I don't, maybe in times past, that there was a danger that civilization would run out of people or something. But I don't see that as, first of all, a couple of things. I don't see that as a threat.
In other words, if we don't procreate mankind sort of burns itself out, because plenty of folks are procreating. In fact, not too long ago there was problems regarding population booms and the earth is still dealing with, I mean, population continues to escalate. So we have that aspect of it.
But I don't see the downside, if it's a question of lifting up a certain group to promote that group by creating laws, for example, if we want a certain business we're going to give them a tax cut because that's going to help bring more of that business into the state.
I hear from people that that's sort of what they view marriage as. But we've already given same-sex couples all of the rights. That's already been done.
All that's left is the title. They are equal in every sense of the word but the self-esteem that can be garnered from being able to say, hey, we're married.
And I'm trying to try to come up with an objective, non-religious, public-spirited, rational basis other than this is what we've been doing for thousands of years to justify not reaching out to them and saying, okay, go ahead.
And I'm hearing that there's reasons not to do that, but I want them distilled from any religious arguments.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I think that you're coming down to, again, marriage is referring to a certain lived reality. Which, I go back to the definition of the procreative act between husband and wife.
And this other reality of civil unions, it's a different reality. There is a fundamental difference between those two acts.
And, again, I go back to you. What I'm seeing here is that you try to call them all the same thing.
And yet I think one of the things that we have to remember is that the reason why people are passionate is because they also have their understandings of marriage. And what we're finding out is that those understandings are not the same.
SEN. KISSEL: Well--
FATHER TED TUMICKI: But then going back to the whole aspect of this is where the historical, the secular, the lived reality is that it does come down to if you start chiseling away here, and, you know, I mentioned earlier about the good and benefit of the spouses, well I think people would agree it's like, that's part of marriage.
When we come down to the procreation and education of children, there is a difference. And, again, as I said, you separate the aspects, you have two totally different realities. You have marriage and you have another kind of relationship.
That's not denying that there's a relationship. But there is a different kind of relationship.
SEN. KISSEL: Well, I'll just conclude with this because we still have a ton of folks that want to speak. But I know where my district is.
And at the end of the day, I'll probably be voting against this bill. But it is not an easy decision for me by any stretch of the imagination.
Because I'm having a very difficult time finding a solid philosophical underpinning to say no. Maybe five, six, seven years ago, but we've everything but the name now.
They have all the legal rights and statute. They are allowed to adopt children and raise them as their own sons and daughters.
We've made all those inherent substantive decisions such that the only thing left is the name. And I have a hard time with that to make a cogent, substantive, philosophically-based argument.
That's not to say that a man and a woman could not be perceived as the ideal role models in a family unit.
But we've already changed our statutes. And that is not to say that there isn't ample testimony to say, walk don't run.
There's plenty of things this legislature says, oh, other states are doing, let's go out and be the leaders and then five, ten years later we look back and we say, oh, we should have paused and reassessed our position.
And this might be one of those. Where we have to sort of look at the empirical data and find out if there's any negative effects by allowing for same-sex marriage that we just can't contemplate at this time.
But I have to make a decision in this reality, in this point and time, and it just strikes me that it's very difficult to look at folks and say, you can't call yourselves married, but in every other sense of the term, in Connecticut, you are.
Like I said, I'm just struggling with that. Because a lot of folks, it seems very, I'm hearing people come up and, I am almost envious that people can be so far on one side or so far on the other side.
And just know what it is. The longer I live the more I realize the less I know, and it becomes more problematic to try to get my arms around a lot of these issues, because I want to do what's right.
And, just I appreciate your testimony, but I was hoping there would be more of a silver bullet answer out there. But there's not.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there further questions? If not, thank you very, oh I'm sorry. Senator Gomes?
SEN. GOMES: I'm a little bewildered myself. We're talking the work marriage and everybody, just like Senator Kissel has said, we're just talking about the term marriage.
We're not exclusively talking about the term of marriage as it being a religious thing where somebody is married within the Church.
So I heard your explanation about marriage is between a man and a woman and the procreation of life. So if somebody gets married outside the church, let's say they get married by a Justice of the Peace, and they don't necessarily have any children, no procreation so to speak, it's no longer a marriage?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: No, it would still be a marriage because [inaudible] that there is the possibility, or an openness to the possibility, of the procreation and education of children.
SEN. GOMES: And there are people who get married within the church with the expressed belief between the two of them, agreement that they will never have children. There's some people that never want children. So that sort of shoots that down too, doesn't it?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, that's probably in one of the marriage annulment cases I dealt with, so, but that's getting into canon law.
SEN. GOMES: That is grounds for annulment? That you do not want to have children?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: If it is agreed to by both parties prior to getting married, that is excluding one of the ends of marriage.
SEN. GOMES: I'm a bad Catholic. I didn't know that.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, I can't make a judgment on that.
SEN. GOMES: The thing of it is, I just look at it, as Senator Kissel said, as a term. We have the civil union, you have everything that is allotted to this couple that you would allot legally to anybody else.
Only thing you are putting on there instead of saying civil union, you are saying civil marriage, which has, really, if they're not married by the Church, it has almost nothing to do with the law of the Church, because they're not living under the laws of the Church if they're not married by the Church.
I could see if we were talking about a marriage that is performed by the Church and into the mix you bring in canons and laws of the Church.
But I'm saying what about people that don't get married within the church, have a civil ceremony, and term themselves to be married rather than just having a civil union. What is the difference?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, the difference between a civil union and a civil marriage?
SEN. GOMES: The difference between a civil union and a civil marriage.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, the difference between a civil union and a civil marriage is, by law, a civil marriage is between a man and a woman and a civil union is between two people of the same sex.
SEN. GOMES: So far.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: That's the legal definition.
SEN. GOMES: That's the legal definition now. But if we were to pass this law about civil marriage that wouldn't be the legal definition. It would just be the Church's definition. Between a man and a woman.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: I think that one of the things here is, I disagree with that this is simply a term. It certainly is a value-laden term. And it also carries with it the historical aspects. It also carries a lot of societal aspects.
SEN. GOMES: I agree with you on that. But all that's been kicked around here all day long is the word term. Marriage is a term that's going to distinguish this law between civil union and civil marriage. The word marriage.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Except, again, I think it's more than a term.
SEN. GOMES: Yeah. Thank you, Father.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? Representative Morris?
REP. MORRIS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank the Chairman for helping me to find the quotes on this wonderful internet as it relates to the Catholic Church and its thoughts on homosexuality being intrinsically evil and objectively disordered.
And I'm going to do the same thing with you that I did with someone else. I think that sometimes the way it gets said, we may get a little confused.
The Catholic Bishops, when they use that term, where they are talking about the acts, the activity behind homosexuality or the individual?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Well, there's a difference between the person, the feeling, and the acts.
REP. MORRIS: Okay.
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Okay. If we're saying that homosexuality as a sexual urge or a sexual attraction, when they're referring to it as disordered, it's because they're looking at it also from the context of the procreation and education of children.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. Okay. And the reason I went there, because I went on this site and I looked at this doctrine that's put together by the United States Conference of Bishops, their Ministry, to persons with homosexual inclinations. And I just want to read a quote that I found there.
Under the guise of respecting human dignity, all people are created in the image and likeness and God, and thus possesses an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected.
And in keeping with this inclination the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
Now having read that, the document continues to go on in another place. It talks about the place of sexuality. How homosexual acts cannot fulfill the natural ends of human sexuality. That's the conversation you gave earlier about the ability to procreate.
But then it gets into a whole piece about homosexual inclination is not a sin. Can you explain that doctrine to us?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: It goes back to what I said about having feeling and acting on them. Okay? A feeling in and of itself, there's not a moral value there. Because when we look at sin we're looking at what someone has done and what someone does. It's not how someone feels.
REP. MORRIS: So would you say that homosexuals are welcome or unwelcome within the Catholic Church?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: Welcome.
REP. MORRIS: Welcome. Thank you. One last piece, and this goes to the conversation about marriage in a secular realm and in a faith context.
And we're going to go to scripture again for a moment, okay? I don't know if that's your forte, I know you're in law, but be ready to go to this for a moment. Because I know the Protestants go there, okay? So you get to speak for the Protestants as well.
And that's in Hebrews. Okay? Thirteen Chapter, I believe it's the fourth verse. Familiar with it? Marriage is honorable in all. Do Catholics hold the Book of Hebrews sacred?
FATHER TED TUMICKI: It is part of the New Testament.
REP. MORRIS: It's part of the New Testament.