PRESIDING CHAIRMEN: Representative Lawlor
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
SENATORS: Handley, Kissel, Cappiello, Meyer, Newton, Roraback
REPRESENTATIVES: Spallone, Farr, Barry, Berger, Cafero, Candelaria, Currey, Dillon, Doyle, Dyson, Fox, Fritz, Geragosian, Giegler, Godfrey, Gonzalez, Green, Hamm, Hamzy, Hovey, Klarides, Labriola, McMahon, Olson, O'Neill, Powers, Serra, Staples, Walker, Winkler
REPRESENTATIVE LAWLOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you could take a seat please. If you could take a seat. And if, for whatever reason, it's not possible to find a seat, I think it was previously announced there's an overflow room. Which room is it?
SENATOR ANDREW MCDONALD: 2D.
REPRESENTATIVE LAWLOR: 2D. If for some reason you leave and you can't get back in or something like that, you can go to 2D. These proceedings are being broadcast in there on television as well as the audio portion of the proceedings.
A couple of quick announcements. First of all, state law requires, especially when you have a room as full as this one, is to make an announcement regarding the emergency exits.
You'll notice there's a door in the back of the room. That is not an emergency exit. It leads just to that booth there. So if there's a problem, don't run that way, please.
The two doors in the front of the room behind me on the right and left, those are the exits. You can either go down the escalator, out through the main entrance, or if you come out this door and turn right several times you'll see there's another exit outside to the building that way.
From time to time there's a fire drill or something like that while we're having our public hearings, so in case anything like that happens, that's the appropriate way to leave.
This year the Judiciary Committee and many committees in the Legislature have adopted a slightly different format for conducting public hearings.
The reason for this is because in the past there have been many complaints that the first part of the hearing was taken up by state officials and others and that ordinary citizens whose views are, generally speaking, more important than what the politicians and bureaucrats have to say were, ended up testifying quite late at night.
So for that reason, we switched to this system, where everyone is treated equally. The order of speaking is chosen by lottery, and, for those of you who want to testify today, I presume that you've already drawn a number and you've been included on the list to testify.
Today, since we only have one issue at hand really, we're going to alternate back and forth pro and con. And there's approximately 79 people signed up at this time.
We think if everyone abides by the three-minute rule in your presentations, we should be able to conclude this prior to our adjournment time at 6:00 p.m. That's what it's scheduled for.
It should work out that way. We had a similar hearing last week on the death penalty, used the same rules, and we did get through it in a timely fashion.
So having said that, if there's anyone who hasn't yet signed up and drawn a number, it's still possible to sign up to testify, although the folks who are already on the list will go first in the order that's already been designated.
And the sheets showing where you are on the list are available. You can take a look and see exactly where you stand, so get a sense of when you need to be in the room.
But if there's other people who would like to testify who haven't signed up, we'll have a backup sign-up sheet so when we complete this list, if we still have time, you're welcome to testify at that point.
And finally, let me say, although we have a relatively full room of Committee Members here now, there are other meetings going on in the building. Each of us has an office here in this building. Typically we have other responsibilities.
So if you see members of the Committee come and go, it does not necessarily mean they can't hear what you're testifying about, because all these proceedings are broadcast throughout the building on our own in-house TV system, as well as statewide on CTN.
Plus everything that's said here during testimony is transcribed, and the transcript of everyone's testimony is kept with the bill throughout the Legislative process and thereafter.
So at any point people could ascertain the arguments for and against a particular piece of legislation by looking back at the testimony.
And that's generally what's referred to as the Legislative History, and sometimes that's used to try and figure out what the intent was behind a law that was enacted by the Legislature.
So having said all of that, let me welcome everyone here today. As I said, we're going to rotate between the lists. And first will be Brian Brown, followed by Ann Stanback, then Donna Pasciutti, then Terry Lawrence, then Robert Muckle, then J. Busch.
So, Mr. Brown, please come forward and we'll begin.
And as, if you're testifying you'll hear a bell or some type of tone, that's the three-minute alarm going off, and we'd ask if you hear that tone please summarize your remarks.
There may or may not be some questions from members of the Committee. But we're going to try and stick to the three-minute limit today so that everyone can have an opportunity to testify.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you, Chairman Lawlor and Chairman McDonald, for giving everyone here the opportunity to speak.
In this past election, we saw states across the country affirm 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 tenets of a representative government.
The people have the right for their voice to be heard. State constitutional amendments protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman were passed in every single state where they were presented to the voters. And this was not a conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat issue.
In Oregon, a state with decidedly liberal political leanings, voters overwhelmingly passed a marriage protection amendment by 56%. The case of Oregon is particularly instructive for Connecticut.
Connecticut is, if anything, in a roughly analogous position. And like Oregon, if the people had the chance they would protect marriage.
Democrats and Republicans, suburbanites and urbanites, African American, Hispanic and white Americans, the majority of all major groups in America agree that marriage is and only can be the union of a man and a woman.
Here before me are 90,000 signatures, all affirming this basic truth, 90,000. The Family Institute of Connecticut, in cooperation with the Knights of Columbus, was amazed at the response to our petition drive to protect marriage.
We saw the largest amount of signatures of any petition drive in state history. These signatures are as diverse as Connecticut itself. I believe they represent the will of the people of this state.
Marriage must be protected as the union of a man and a woman. 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.
Two mommies or two daddies do not make up for a mom and a dad. Same-sex marriage severs the tie between marriage and parenthood.
It gives the state's stamp of approval to an institution that creates permanent motherlessness or fatherlessness. It is a vast untested social experiment on our state's children.
Unfortunately, we are again seeing the will of the few trumping the will of the many. Connecticut is facing an impending court decision that could overturn millennia of human history.
But this Committee itself is not giving a public hearing to a bill that would let the people decide the future of marriage.
Why are we having a hearing on two bills that will radically redefine marriage and not on the one that will protect it? What sort of message of fairness does this send to all of the people that signed a petition asking for marriage to be protected?
Well, each of you should be aware that there is a piece of legislation that will protect marriage and allow the people to vote directly on this issue, H.J. 29.
H.J. 29 is a State Constitutional amendment that simply defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It takes marriage away from the courts and puts it into the hands of the people.
It would allow the people of this state a chance to vote their views on this issue directly in the voting booth.
If same-sex marriage proponents truly believe that public opinion supports their position, they should welcome letting the people decide the future of marriage.
I therefore urge each and every member of this Committee not only to strongly oppose these same-sex marriage bills, but to stand up as representatives of the people and give H.J. 29 a fair hearing.
I urge each and every one of you to consider co-sponsoring that bill. I urge you to listen to your constituents and let the people decide the future of marriage.
I am convinced that they will do what the voters have always done when given the chance, protect marriage.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Mr. Brown.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: This bill obviously deals with the civil authority to confer marriage rights on individuals who are residents of the State of Connecticut.
My question to you is do you acknowledge that there's a difference between civil marriage under civil law and religious marriage under various religious faiths?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, if you're asking the question, I didn't bring up a division between civil marriage and religious marriage.
Marriage preexists the state. Marriage is not created by the state. Whether you call it religious or cultural, it's an anthropological institution of a man and a woman. It predates the state.
What the state does is recognize it and confer certain benefits, rights, responsibilities on it. It's a cultural institution. You don't create it by passing a bill, let's have a marriage bill. It's not created by the state.
So what the state is doing is it's saying, look, we have this cultural entity called marriage, it serves a good function, children do best in households with mothers and fathers.
The social science evidence is overwhelming that the divorce revolution of the '60s has bequeathed to us all sorts of problems that stem directly from kids not having both moms and dads.
So why does the state get involved in the marriage business? Because it's good for the state.
The reason that the state confers certain benefits and responsibilities on marriage is because marriage is good for the State of Connecticut. It's good for our children. We know what it is. And it's a cultural institution that needs to be defined, protected, and understood.
SEN. MCDONALD: So as a cultural institution, would you agree then that it is, or are you saying that it's not a religious institution as well?
BRIAN BROWN: It is. Marriage is many things and there are slight, there are differences among religions and differences among states for that matter. Some states allow a 16-year-old to get married.
But these are around the edges of marriage. The core definition of marriage, the definition that's at issue, isn't something that's contested against wide swaths of time, wide cultures.
I mean, people from different states, different countries all agree that the central quality of marriage is that it takes a man and a woman.
SEN. MCDONALD: But I'm just trying to make sure that we are clear in our debate that the proposed legislation before us is not intended to infringe in any way on people's religious beliefs. Do you agree with that?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I think it affects people's religious beliefs and does and can, in fact, infringe on their beliefs.
I mean, if you look at countries that have gone in this direction, it isn't as though you do same-sex marriage and it's not connected with other societal changes.
I mean, even if you put in this bill, for example, we're not going to change what's taught in the schools, how, why would you do that logically.
If you truly believe that marriage can either be between a man and a woman or a man and a man, then why wouldn't you teach that in the schools? And that in fact is what's happened.
So to say that there's this distinct area of marriage, civil marriage, what the state confers, that's totally unconnected to what the people think marriage is, their moral convictions, their religious convictions, and that you can bifurcate the two, no, you can't do that.
All of those things are all connected together and people of faith, just as people who don't have any faith at all, have a right to stand up and say, look, this is what we believe marriage is.
SEN. MCDONALD: Were this legislation to pass, how would it detract from the religious tenets of the Catholic Church or Judaism or Hinduism or any other various religions that are out there? How would this civil law detract from people's individual faith in their religions?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, the petitions to my left don't represent any one religion. Many of the people who signed these petitions might not be religious at all.
So to make this a debate about religion versus the secular law I think is a false understanding of what's at stake.
What people are saying is they're being altruistic. They're not even necessarily saying this is going to affect my marriage, you know, I'm married, I have three kids, I'm not necessarily saying, well, this is going to destroy my marriage. No.
What people are saying is marriage is a central part of our culture. It's a central part of who we are.
And if we believe you're going to change that, then we have a right to speak up, because although the direct effects might not be immediate, that the long-term effects and the effects that are going to be on our larger culture, people are saying we don't want that to happen.
So to narrow it down and say, well, if this doesn't destroy your marriage then you don't have a right to speak about it, I think that's a profound misunderstanding about what public policy is.
What we're saying is this is, marriage is for the greatest good. It's for the common good. And we're standing up and speaking for the common good.
SEN. MCDONALD: And in your conception of marriage, what would you suggest is the primary purpose of marriage in society?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, marriage, it's difficult to say there's one primary purpose because there are a number of purposes of marriage. One of the purposes is its connection to parenthood and its connection to childrearing.
There is also marriage serves as the basic fabric and what binds us together as far as social cohesion. It's the, what Edmund Burke calls the first little platoon. It's the first place that you learn the basic, you know, norms of the good life.
So the marriage, because it's the foundation of the family, serves as a foundation for all sorts of other aspects of our social life. And as an anthropological institution, there's not just one thing that it does.
But it is connected with parenthood. It's the primary means by which we raise our children with both mothers and fathers. It's connected to social cohesion. It's connected to companionate love. There is a connection there.
But to sever all these other goods off and to say, well, love makes a family, my companionate love is the only thing that defines marriage, I think is a gross misunderstanding of what marriage is.
And I think it severs one of its most important functions, parenthood and childrearing, from the purposes, the many purposes that it has.
SEN. MCDONALD: We obviously allow in this state same-sex couples to adopt and rear children, and that is done without the benefit of marriage.
And I guess I'm unclear about why the institution of marriage in your testimony is the defining element of the ability to rear children.
I mean, we have single parents. We have guardians. We have grandparents who raise children, many of whom are extraordinarily capable and raise wonderful children that benefit all of us in society.
Why is that, and frankly, on the other side, we have children who are raised in families with husbands and wives who have very unloving families and very problematic childhoods. How do you square those two propositions?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I don't think there's necessarily any contradiction at all. There are bad families. There are good families.
And in the instances that you point to, for example, with single parenthood, it's a serious problem in our state and across the country, and we need to help people who through no fault of their own, they're trying to work hard.
Oftentimes women are trying to work hard to support children and they don't have help from a husband. There are different scenarios.
And I'm not saying that in those cases that we lay any blame on anyone. Those are difficult scenarios and we should be trying to help people in those situations.
The difference, however, is that if you just view it from the perspective of what can occur, oftentimes people remarry. Kids regain in a certain sense the ability to have both moms and dads.
Same-sex marriage is a very particular thing because what you're doing here is you're essentially saying, okay, the state is going to create an institution in which children will never have the ability to have both a mom and a dad. That's what you're doing.
And you're giving the state's stamp of approval on such an institution. And the track record isn't good.
I mean, the social science evidence is there. Stanley Kurtz has written extensively on this at the Hoover Institution. He's an anthropologist. Maggie Gallagher. There's a whole litany of social scientists who've looked at this.
And in countries that have embraced, have gone down this direction, it isn't the sort of panacea that it's presented as. These countries are having problems with marriage, even worse problems than we have.
In Scandinavia, for example, you have a larger proportion of parents cohabiting than being married. That's a serious social problem. There are problems with cohabitation. There are problems with not seeing marriage as an ideal.
So what I'm saying is that marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal. It's what the state shoots for. There are these other instances, and in those instances, you know, people need support, people need help.
But to do away with the ideal because there are these exceptions, social science is based on general truths. In general, kids do best with both a mom and a dad.
Are you going to be able to point to a friend or in your own family and say, well, that wasn't true in my instance? Of course. But that's not what we're claiming.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are you suggesting that by extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples that would ameliorate the type of societal conditions that you've just mentioned with respect to opposite-sex couples or make it worse?
I guess I'm, you're suggesting, and don't let me put words in your mouth, but you're suggesting that if the Legislature were to confer the ability for two members of the same sex to marry, that that would somehow further dilute or compromise the integrity of an institution you've already acknowledged is facing multiple troubles.
Would it make it worse in terms of the relationships that are already existing, with a divorce rate at 50%? How would it make it worse?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, that's a long story. If you want to go back, first we have to figure out how we got here. How did we get to a point where our divorce rates are so high? How did we get to a point where people don't have a shared conception of marriage as a lifelong endeavor?
SEN. MCDONALD: And how did same-sex couples contribute to that?
BRIAN BROWN: They didn't. I never argued that, nor would I argue that. Same-sex marriage didn't get us to this point. But same-sex marriage is only conceivable when we're here.
The reason that you didn't have same-sex marriage coming up as something that people would argue about 15 or 20 years ago is because people understood intrinsically what marriage was. There was more of an understanding.
Now 30 years ago, there was even more of a shared public understanding. What same-sex marriage does is again destroy that public and shared understanding.
Now all we have left of marriage is, in general most people say marriage is the union of a man and a woman. If you want a divorce because you're not getting along, you know, fine. People will have all different views of this.
But the old understanding that once you got married you stuck it out, it was also about your kids, it wasn't just about you. That's been severed.
Now with same-sex marriage, even that last bit that we have, we all agree, marriage is the union of a man and a woman. You're taking the next step. You're saying, no, it's not, it's not even that. Marriage is about any two people and their feelings.
Well, why then not take the next step, and don't say, well, it's because there's not a big polygamy lobby. Let's be logical and be rational. Why not?
If marriage is about companionate love and companionate love alone, and if it's about the state conferring benefits to those who want the benefits, then if I say I love three, four or five people or my whole community, by what reason, by what logic do you not confer to me those rights and benefits.
That's what you've done to marriage. By taking this last step, that's why we say we want to protect marriage, because by taking this last step you're doing away with marriage as a shared social institution.
Is the sky going to fall tomorrow? I'm not saying that, no. But in the long term there's no more binding understanding or shared public good of what marriage is. So that's the connection.
SEN. MCDONALD: And one final question. Clearly you oppose the two bills that are before us.
BRIAN BROWN: Did you guess that?
SEN. MCDONALD: So short of that, short of that, Mr. Brown, are there any legal rights that you would agree should be conferred on same-sex couples that don't currently exist under our civil law?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, that's like asking if I believe that there are instances where say an aunt is taking care of a niece and there are certain rights that they're being denied. That's asking the same question.
Is there any group of people that might not be getting the rights that they deserve? Is there any number of people that might be able to have more? Yes, probably.
But when you base it upon a sexual relationship then you yourself are basically discriminating against others who aren't in that relationship.
Now when you had the six rights and privileges that you passed, that any two people could do an emergency phone call from their, when they're at their employer's, or a right to visitation in a hospital, there were six of these, it wasn't based around a sexual relationship. Any two people could do it. If any two people can do it then you're not discriminating against any group.
But say that tomorrow you pass civil unions and they're in every way the same as same-sex marriage, of course we would oppose that.
You can't just change the title of a bill and say a bill on civil unions, but it's everything the same as same-sex marriage, and then say you've done something different. You haven't.
SEN. MCDONALD: One of the elements of this legislation or something else, whether it's civil unions or something else, would create a framework in our judicial system that would allow the courts to deal with the children of same-sex couples when those relationships dissolve like many relationships, when they come apart.
And currently we don't have a judicial framework within which to deal with those children in terms of child support, in terms of custody.
How would you propose that the judicial system deal with those types of situations absent a legal framework within which those couples are recognized?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, to say that there isn't any legal framework to deal with children I think is wrong. There's still probate court. And, for example, if--
SEN. MCDONALD: Probate court doesn't have jurisdiction over custody matters.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, in most custody matters of children of same-sex couples, in most instances a living father or mother is still alive.
For example, if a couple, say I was married and I divorced and I'm living with a same-sex partner, and there are children from a previous marriage, the original separation there would have been, there would have been probate. There would have been a court that you would have gone through.
So there is in that sense a legal means of deciding what's going to happen in the future. Is that--
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, I'm sure we could go on all day--
BRIAN BROWN: All right. Yeah. I won't take up any more time.
SEN. MCDONALD: And I appreciate the courtesy of my colleagues because I know other individuals have questions for you.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? Senator Newton.
SEN. NEWTOWN: Good afternoon.
BRIAN BROWN: Good afternoon. Thank you for having us.
SEN. NEWTON: I want to shift the debate a little bit to the constitutional amendment and why you feel so strongly that the residents of the State of Connecticut ought to have some say-so as other states have had say-so's, I need to, because a constitutional amendment is something that we take very serious.
And we protect it, you know, so that we don't open it up just because people feel one way or the other. Why would you think a constitutional amendment is so important?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I agree with you that we shouldn't take amending the Constitution lightly at all.
But we have to understand, and everyone here should understand, that the Constitution in Connecticut will likely be amended one way or the other.
The courts currently have the Kerrigan case in front of them. The Kerrigan case is very similar to the Goodridge case in Massachusetts.
The Goodridge case in Massachusetts, once it worked its way up to the Supreme Court, four people decided to change marriage, not the people of Massachusetts.
And a court forced same-sex marriage on Massachusetts without ever allowing the people to have a say in it. That same thing could very likely happen here in Connecticut.
And if you don't want that to happen, the only way to halt the courts from doing this is through a state constitutional amendment because then they're bound.
If our State Constitution explicitly said marriage in the State of Connecticut is the union of one man and one woman, and that's what the Constitutional Amendment H.J. 29 says, first of all, people couldn't come to this state from Massachusetts and try and overturn our marriage laws by bringing suits.
And second of all, the courts couldn't, through this Kerrigan case, create same-sex marriage out of thin air.
Because if the court did that, we all know, our laws don't currently, we don't currently have same-sex marriage. If the court decided tomorrow you've got same-sex marriage, once you get through all the spin, the court just created same-sex marriage.
And so what I believe is, look, if we're going to have these debates, we're going to come back here year after year, why don't we just let the people have a chance to decide this, why don't we let them vote.
This isn't a run-of-the-mill type of argument. This isn't, you know, necessarily your usual legislative argument. This is something crucial. This is something important.
Why not in this instance we say this is so important, let's let the people decide.
SEN. NEWTON: Just a final question, Mr. Chairman. Because this has become a big issue from around the country, do you feel that there ought to be some rights and benefits?
I mean, it's out now that we have people who love one another that are of the same sex, that they should have some rights and benefits? Maybe you're the wrong person to ask, but, I mean, it's here. And should they?
BRIAN BROWN: Of course. See, again, the way that the debate has been framed in the first place is wrong.
We're not denying anyone their rights or benefits. What we're saying is those special privileges that accrue to marriage between a man and a woman are only there because of the uniqueness and special relationship and complementarity of male and female to kids.
Now same-sex couples can already write wills. They can already have healthcare conservator documents drawn up in case one gets ill. Any two people can do this.
So to say that there's discrimination taking place right now is the same thing as saying there's discrimination taking place against a grandfather and a grandson who live together and aren't able to do all of the things that a married couple can do automatically.
Obviously there's no sexual relationship, but are those two people being denied their rights because there's not, they don't get Social Security benefits? No.
The state's decided that in the best interest of the state marriage is the best thing for us, so we're going to give certain special benefits.
Now I'll tell you, they've been eroded. It's not as though we've accrued more benefits onto marriage. There are less than there were 30 years ago.
So to say there are these special benefits that we automatically confer to marriage, but other people can do them through simple legal documents, not all of them, but this legislation, the ones that are going to be brought up, like Social Security, the federal benefits, aren't going to be changed by this legislation.
The federal government has the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The federal government isn't going to recognize these marriages, just as it doesn't recognize those in Massachusetts.
What we have to step back from all these particular questions and say why does the state, as I said in the first place, why does the state do what it does for marriage between a man and a woman.
Because of its uniqueness, because of its specialness. It isn't because of discrimination or hate or any of these other terms that have been cast about.
SEN. NEWTON: Just final. And I think people, you know, get elected by their constituents, so I just need to understand that with this constitutional amendment that I guess you support, why wouldn't the voters entrust that with us, because we're elected by the people, for the people, that you would need a constitutional amendment to go out?
BRIAN BROWN: I think that's a good question. I think in general that is true. But there are issues that are so salient, that are so monumental, that are so important that I think the people should have a right to directly vote on those.
And in other states, like Oregon, for example, these petitions, we already would be going to the ballot with this. In other states people are allowed to gather signatures and to get something directly on the ballot.
That's not the way it works in Connecticut. And I'm not arguing about that right now. What I'm saying is you do have a chance to give people that opportunity.
If a simple majority votes yes on the state constitutional amendment, they'd have to do it twice. It'd be a long road, but eventually it would go to the people in 2008.
So I'm not saying all the time, but I'm saying in this particular instance let's do it.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? Representative Farr.
REP. FARR: One of the problems we have as a society is the growing number of children who are born without the benefit of marriage at all, born with heterosexual couples. Today I believe the statistics are over 30% of children do not, are not born into, borne by a married couple.
And it seems to me the biggest problem is the lack of commitment, that the couple may be living together, they may be a man and a woman in a house, but the reason they're not married is because there is no commitment in the first place.
And so what's really lacking with that breakdown of the children being born into married couples is a lack of commitment on two parties' parts that they're going to try to raise those children.
You describe the fact that, you mention the fact that the benefits of marriage are being eroded, but it seems to me that we've eroded those benefits in part to accommodate the non-married couples.
And in fact, many employers now have domestic partnership laws that says, gee, you can have the same healthcare benefits even though you're not married, even though you could be married.
And, in fact, 70% of those cases, I'm told, the benefits go to heterosexual couples who choose not to be married. Then they have children. And so we've eroded some of the very benefits of marriage.
Wouldn't we be better off if we created an alternative, it namely a civil union, and said to people if you were in a civil union or you were in a marriage you could have certain benefits, and we wouldn't have to continually erode the benefits of marriage. And as a society we could give these benefits to both types of couples so that people would make commitments.
And I'm not sure I understand how making, saying that some people will make a commitment in the civil union and that that somehow erodes the commitment that people are making in a marriage.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, if civil unions are what they've ever been on the Vermont model, and if they are just, in that model it's just specifically set aside for homosexual couples.
So if it's based on that, and it's all the same thing as same-sex marriage, if it is everything but the name, then of course we're going to oppose it.
But in those instances that you say, like on a model of, I believe, Sweden or a place where there's a different term for it, but heterosexuals can have this too, we would oppose that in just the same way because then what you're doing is no longer, there the shared cultural idea of marriage.
You create all these in-between way stations, and oftentimes people don't even bother to have that ideal anymore.
I mean, it's not as though the marriage rates are skyrocketing in countries that have embraced this in-between ideal. In fact, it's the opposite.
So I think what you're doing is you're accelerating the problems that we already have rather than offering any remedy.
And before we ever got into this, we were going into churches and trying to get people to sign community marriage agreements, trying to get churches to agree to a certain amount of marital training before people could married in those churches, to try and rebuild the culture of marriage where people understand, okay, this isn't to be taken lightly, first of all, and this is what it is, it's a lifetime commitment.
Now sometimes people say, well, why aren't you still doing that, especially people that don't want us up here testifying, well, we're not doing that because we think all of that work will be thrown out by making this change.
This is like taking, you know, a sledgehammer to all of that, because you don't even have the shared understanding of marriage, the building block of, okay, marriage is at its core a union of a man and a woman.
You're getting rid of that. How can we catch up with all of the other changes that would follow?
REP. LAWLOR: Any questions? Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just have a few questions for you, if I might.
First I want to say I do agree with you on the issue of the courts on this or any other issue. I do think that there is a problem with regards to judges acting as legislators, whether I agree with the issues or not.
I think if they would like to create laws they should run for office and if they want to judge upon our laws then be a judge and act upon what we have passed.
Having said that, dealing with the constitutional amendment, how do you respond to the argument that the Constitution is generally a document that gives more rights to individuals and does not take any rights away from an individual?
That's an argument that I've heard. How do you respond to that?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, we're explicitly not taking any rights away from individuals. Same-sex marriage doesn't exist in Connecticut. We're not taking any rights away from anyone.
What we're doing is defining a core social institution, the core social institution, and stopping the courts from doing exactly what you referred to.
Now some people here might say, well, that's too big of a step. Well, if you believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that's important, and that's unique, then you should be willing to do what's necessary in order to keep that definition.
And I'm sorry, but the only thing I believe that will do that is amending our State Constitution, because, you know, we're just hanging on a thread. The court decides this way, marriage is done as we know it. It decides this way, okay, well, there will be more challenges.
This issue isn't going to go away once there's ability to use the courts to trump the people.
So what we're saying is if you want the people to have a voice in this, if you want the people to have their opinion known and this to be a democracy, the regular democratic process to be followed, then really the only way out is through a state constitutional amendment, because then the people can go into the voting booth, vote their consciences and come out.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: With regards to some of the legislation we've already passed in the last number of years, legislation that I've supported, that do give additional rights, you had referred to the fact that we did not limit it to same-sex couples, you know, it could be any two people, brother, sister, etc., and you didn't have a problem with that, with those particular rights, the hospitalization rights, the issue of calling from your workplace in an emergency.
But I want to be clear on this, when you were responding to Representative Farr, what if the Legislature decided to put forward a bill dealing with civil union not marriage, and it specified that any two people who are unable under our current law be married, to be able to have a civil union, a contract of some sort, to allow certain rights, to allows certain insurance benefits, etc., whether it be all the same benefits under the other civil union laws, you would be against that also, even though it's not discriminatory, even though it would be any two people who are unable to be married currently?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, then you're just saying something different. First of all, you couldn't say that unless you were going to allow sisters and brothers to marry, because if you said any two people, there are different restrictions on marriage. It's not just any two people other than--
SEN. CAPPIELLO: I understand that. What I'm saying is if the bill stated, and I don't know if this is what's going, I don't think it's going to be proposed, but I'm just trying to get at what you're getting at.
If the bill was similar to legislation that was passed two years ago regarding specific rights that said any two people under the law right now that cannot be married, so brother and sister, grandfather, grandson, same-sex couple, whatever it would be, if the Legislature passed something like that, giving all the rights and responsibilities to those two people because they're unable to be married in any other fashion, and they're not currently married so it couldn't be a married man and his brother or whatever, you would oppose that also, even though it's not discriminatory, correct?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I would have to see the specific piece of legislation. What you're doing there though is you're essentially, I mean, there's going to be all sorts of insurance, the cost to the state, I don't know that you'd find many people that would say any two, you're essentially saying any two people can get the rights and responsibilities of marriage who can't currently be married.
Is that what you're offering? I know you're not offering, but as a question.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Yes.
BRIAN BROWN: The cost would be phenomenal. I don't know that you'd get anyone to--
SEN. CAPPIELLO: But putting aside the cost, I'm talking philosophically, how would you feel about that since it's not discriminatory like the legislation we passed before, you said it wasn't discriminatory. So would this be acceptable philosophically?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I guess sort of a model of that is the Reciprocal Beneficiaries legislation in Hawaii that was passed, that let any two people to get reciprocal benefits.
That's an entirely separate question. If we knew the particulars of it, you're not then basing it upon a sexual relationship. You're saying any two people can get certain benefits.
All I'm willing to say is that there's six privileges, or whatever you want to call them, that you passed that weren't based upon a sexual relationship, that's something that we didn't oppose because it wasn't based upon a same-sex relationship.
It wasn't based upon creating a new category. All it did was make things that currently exist in most instances easier.
But frankly, this rights language and these specific benefits language, this has been used to push an entirely different agenda.
And for the most part, the instances that are brought up are already allowed. You don't need to change the law. There are simple legal documents to take care of estates. I mean, I can't stress this enough.
So we wouldn't support something that the law already says exists between any two people. There's no reason to do that.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: What about the argument that, one, it's more costly. If there was a piece of legislation passed, something like that, that it wouldn't be as costly because you wouldn't have to fill out all the forms. We wouldn't have to have the attorneys.
What about the issue of healthcare benefits for someone who, granted this would be very costly, but healthcare benefits for someone, if there's either a same-sex partner or a brother who neither one of you are married.
I have two aunts, for instance, who are in their 70's they live together, one works, one does not. What about the insurance benefits? What about other benefits that go along with marriage today?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, you know, it depends on private employers. You know, that's, it gets even more complicated because are you saying you're going to, they would be forced to give benefits, because right now, you know, depending on the size of a company, it doesn't have to do that necessarily for married couples.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: I'm saying quite simply, and again, this is not being offered. I'm just trying to get to where you're--
BRIAN BROWN: No, no--
SEN. CAPPIELLO: If it's allowable under the law today for a married couple, to apply that to any other two people, so, yes, if a corporation was forced to give benefits to a married couple, they'd be forced to give, whether it be a same-sex partner, whether it be a brother, whether it be a grandfather, whatever the situation would be, it would just be applicable to those two people.
So if it was a small business who didn't have to give benefits, they wouldn't have to give them in this scenario either.
It would just be an application similar to the civil union law, but not based upon sexual orientation, but based upon any two people who are unable to be married under our current law today.
BRIAN BROWN: People are trying to rush me out of here. Sorry. I'm just trying to answer questions.
I would say that, I don't understand exactly what you're getting at. I would be willing to talk about it. But in general, anything that creates a separate institution or a way station to marriage or something in between we would oppose.
In general, if you look at the legislation that you passed that allows it to be easier to do certain things, that's something entirely different.
It's any two people. It's not discriminating. That's something different. But we don't need the civil unions, even though there's no bill right now, I imagine there will be one, or domestic partnerships.
Most of the rights and privileges referred to already exist in the law. What we need to do, and what we should be concerned about, is protecting marriage from redefinition from the courts.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Representative Walker was next. I don't see her here. So Representative Klarides.
REP. KLARIDES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Mr. Brown.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you. Thanks.
REP. KLARIDES: I just have a couple questions on some of your prior testimony today, your answers to some of my colleagues' questions.
At one point you were talking about, I think you had Senator McDonald saying that kids do best in a home with a mom and a dad.
And then you also had a dialogue about the high divorce rate these days and we see all these reports and all these, you know, with counselors and psychologists about how that affects children.
And I think you represented that you agree that that's, I mean, with a mom and a dad, with a heterosexual couple being married and then divorced and having children and how that affects the children.
So you had mentioned that kids to best in a home with a mom and a dad. But I guess it always comes down to me what the reality of it all is, and I've said this before and I'm going to say it today.
I mean, I grew up in a home with my mom, my dad, and my sister. My parents are still married. You know, I'm not anti, well, I may be a little bit, but, no. You know, I don't have any problem with that.
I didn't grow up with divorced parents, and I see my parents all the time and my family's still intact.
However, the reality of it all is that that's not how it is anymore [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 1A to Tape 1B.]
--dog sitting next to you and watching TV and let's discuss what we did today. And I think that that would be great. You know, I really do. And I wish that somehow we could get back to that in a certain way, just because the family unit, not necessarily, but to me it's not what that family unit is made of. It's the family unit period.
So I guess what confuses me with some of the things you've said are you think kids do best with a mom and dad.
And it seems as if you are supporting children being in a family with a mom and against any other option, even if those parents don't speak, even if those parents have to go to court on a regular basis because they can't even speak to each other because of their divorce, and they can't even discuss that we should switch a day of visitation.
That's how bad their relationship is, that they have to go to court to make that decision, and how those things affect children. That I guess it confuses me a little bit how your stand, although I respect your stand.
I don't agree with it, but I respect it. You know, I respect everybody's opinion whether it's what I think, agree with or not.
How you can say to all else the most important thing is that we, there's a man and a woman married and that's it, even though it's been proven how it affects those children.
BRIAN BROWN: What I'm saying is that if you control for other variables, and this has been done, I mean, David Popenoe, Dean of Social Sciences at Rutgers University, has stated if we just look at the social science there wouldn't be a debate about the fact that children do best with both a mother and a father.
You can point to as many exceptions to the general rule as you want, and there are bad families. There's no question. There are families where kids are abused.
But that truth doesn't count away the truth that in general kids do best with both a mother and a father. And we've had 30 years to test this.
The fact that there's a mom and a dad, that is important. Gender is just not some unimportant part of this. I mean, if you had two moms or two dads it's different. There's a different situation.
Marriage is based upon the complementarity of male and female. That is important. And to say that it's just any two, there's no evidence to support that.
REP. KLARIDES: Well, where's the evidence to say that it's based on the, what did you say?
BRIAN BROWN: Complementarity of male and female.
REP. KLARIDES: Complementarity.
BRIAN BROWN: Or sometimes not so—
REP. KLARIDES: You threw me with that one. The complementarity of a male and a female. I mean, if we take the children out of it for a second, where is the evidence that marriage—
BRIAN BROWN: Well, we have plenty of studies on fatherlessness and the differences between motherlessness and fatherlessness, and how there are different roles filled by mothers and fathers and that there are different, if you measure for outcomes there are different outcomes based upon motherlessness or fatherlessness.
So the research does exist. If you're asking to point to research on same-sex parenting, this is in its infancy.
This isn't a phenomenon that we have, you know, a huge amount of studies that have a large control group and we have an ability to longitudinally study through 30 years. There's just not, it's in its infancy.
But David Blankenhorn, who wrote Fatherless America, he's one of the experts on the question of fatherlessness, he said the exact same thing.
Thirty years ago, when the divorce revolution came up, people said, well, let's, in California, let's have no-fault divorce, let's point to the examples of kids in bad households where there's a lot of fighting, and it's going to be better for the kids if we allow no-fault divorce.
And the research didn't exist to counter it because we didn't have huge divorce rates. The research is now in. It was not a panacea. It created a huge amount of problems.
The divorce rate has affected almost every aspect of American life. So if you wait to have the definitive study on same-sex parenting, as Blankenhorn said, it's going to be the same situation. We're going to find out the same thing.
If we know from data that any deviation from the mother-father family model, the experiments in alternative families of the '60s and '70s weren't great successes, if we know that then why are we trying to change the model, especially when we know that the people don't support it.
REP. KLARIDES: Well, I guess the way I look at it is when you talk about, I don't think we're looking for anything definitive, because you're dealing with two humans who are imperfect and therefore it's an imperfect relationship with an imperfect life.
I mean, we all live an imperfect life and that's the reality. I mean, that's about as definitive as we can get with that.
Having said that, we certainly have enough evidence on marriage between a man and a woman. I mean, that we know. That's not in its infancy stages.
And although I completely support that, we also know that 50% of those people are divorced, which means there are 50% of the people, however many of those people have children, have a broken home in one way or another.
And a lot of those people aren't speaking. A lot of those people are fighting. A lot of those people are having many dysfunctional moments that those children are seeing and are affecting those children.
So I guess I, I know your, it's the Family Institute, is that what you represent? So when we talk about families, and these families just aren't married couples to me.
They're children and parents, or, you know, two people that are married without children, whatever the combination is.
And I guess it's, I get, where I get stuck is saying that we don't have enough information on same-sex couples, but we have enough information on opposite-sex couples, and there's so many problems with the institution of marriage, and nothing we do will change that.
People will continue to get along if they're going to get along or fight if they're going to fight and get divorced or not get divorced.
And 50 years ago the reason why the divorce rate was so low, I mean, in my opinion, is it wasn't as acceptable as it was. And I think that that's unfair, because I think that that should be your last resort to get divorced.
I really believe in once you're married or having a civil union or whatever it is that we're going to call it or not going to call it, but two people joining themselves in that way, I think that should be the last resort.
But the fact is it's a realistic part of two people who are imperfect and having an imperfect relationship. And if that doesn't work, it doesn't work.
You know, so to say that it's the best to have a mom and a dad there, I mean, I guess, you know, I'm old-fashioned in that way. That's the family I grew up in.
But I also know that kids are the most important part of this whole deal. You know, and I want them to grow up in a place that they feel loved, you know, and they have attention.
And they can talk to somebody instead of learning everything from their eight-year-old peers at school when they want to learn things instead of asking their parents, or when they have a problem I want them to go to their parents, whatever that means.
You know, whether that's two men, two women, a man and a woman, but I just think it's so hard in this day and age with the divorce rate and children growing up in this world that I think it seems very black and white for you to be taking that position.
Like I said, I respect it. I don't agree with it. But I don't understand how you argue it. I don't understand how you argue that and that's where I get stuck, when you say kids are important yet you say but they should only be with a man and a woman.
BRIAN BROWN: What I'm saying is, first of all, I grant it that there are many instances where single parents are doing the best that they can and they should be supported. So I didn't say that they can only be with a man and a woman or anything like that.
What I'm saying is that as legislators there's a duty to create the best culture that we can and to help families in the ways that we can.
And I think by supporting marriage as the union of a man and a woman and by giving the people their chance to vote on that, I think that you're fulfilling that duty.
So obviously, I mean, the main point of my testimony is about children. I mean, the people that are here are here, they're concerned about children. They're concerned about the health of their society, and, you know, on either side I think that that's true.
I'm not imputing bad motives on the other side. But I think that the social science evidence is clear that kids do best with both a mother and a father.
I do think that's clear. And I do think we should base laws upon sound social science and upon the will of the people.
REP. KLARIDES: Even if that means they grow up in a broken family?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I'm not creating an either/or scenario. I think what we need to do is rebuild a marriage culture.
And I think that we can go too far down the road of the doomsayers, because actually, if you look at the divorce rate over the last five or six years, there have been slight improvements.
So it seems like you're positing this, there's either this ideal or, you know, everything's going to pot. Well, no, there are ways that we can make good laws and good public policy that helps to reinforce and under-gird families.
REP. KLARIDES: And you don't think we could do that in both ways. You don't think we can reinforce a man and a woman's relationship while also giving equal rights to a same-sex couple.
BRIAN BROWN: Not if you vote on something that by its very nature destroys any public understanding of what marriage is.
Not if you vote on something which at its root says marriage is based upon I have feelings of love toward another and it doesn't matter that it's a man or a woman or he or she is a man or a woman, but I want, that has to be called marriage.
Well, then, as is happening in Canada, what happens when I say I love, you know, two or three people? And the Canadian commission that's currently looking into polygamy is having to be forced with coming to its own logical consequences that it never expected.
So if you say, well, love is about, marriage is about the fact that, you know, I love who I want, you have to logically be able to answer if that's all that marriage is.
Obviously I don't believe that that's what marriage is, but if you claim that you have to be able to answer why not three, four or five people, why not.
If it's discrimination to say two people that are of the same sex can't have it, why not three, four or five.
I think we have to be consistent. I think we have to be logical. And I think we have to base our public policy on sound social science.
REP. KLARIDES: But, I mean, that's kind of, with all due respect, that's kind of a hollow argument, saying, well, if we should have two men that say they want to be legally bound why not five. I mean, it's hollow in that sense.
And I understand where you're coming from--
BRIAN BROWN: If it's hollow, but then why not.
REP. KLARIDES: --I understand it's your argument. But my point is this. And then I'm going to let my colleagues speak. I know I've taken enough time.
My point is, and I think it's a simple point to a certain extent. If you, I'm a heterosexual woman.
If tomorrow we decide to have, we vote on gay marriage and we pass is in this Legislation, let's just say hypothetically, or civil union, do you think then the next day I'm going to say to myself, you know what, maybe I'll be a lesbian?
I mean, what does one have to do with the next? I don't really understand. I just don't understand the connection.
REP. LAWLOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if I could just interrupt one second--
BRIAN BROWN: That's--
REP. LAWLOR: Time out, Mr. Brown. Ladies and gentlemen, in terms of demonstrations in the Committee room, it's our tradition that we don't in any way applaud or boo or in any way acknowledge support.
And the reason for that is because it can be intimidating to other people. So for example, if I said something that was particularly popular or a witness said something that's popular and people applauded, that can be intimidating to people who are going to testify in the other direction and vice versa.
So that's the reason. It's not that we don't think it's okay to express your point of view, but not in this room for the purpose of this hearing.
So if you don't mind, if something is a little bit humorous, it's okay to chuckle. But, you know, applause and things like that are not appropriate [inaudible] especially if I say it.
So with that said, I just want to ask that indulgence for the rest of our hearing. So please proceed, Mr. Brown, with your answer.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you--
REP. KLARIDES: But that's what I don't understand. And I know we can't get into it now because this is a long discussion and apparently it's philosophical and we disagree on that matter.
But to me I can clearly support the institution of marriage between a man and a woman and think that that's great.
And we can try and strengthen that as it's appeared that it's deteriorating throughout the years, and I think that that's one issue, while giving same-sex couples their rights to have that ability.
And I don't see how one, I don't see how allowing same-sex couples to have the same rights as a heterosexual couple deteriorates the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, because, as I said, I mean, that's why I made the comment I made.
They think it's going to make people become gay overnight? I just, you know, that's what I, it's confusing to me because I think we can do both. And that's really--
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I explicitly set out from the beginning that, no, in fact, that's not what I'm saying, nor would I ever say that.
From the very beginning I said the reason that we're involved in this for concerns about the public good.
Is it going to directly affect my marriage, you know, will I divorce tomorrow if same-sex marriage is passed? No, that's ludicrous.
We're not arguing that, nor have we ever argued that. I said from the beginning that the sky may not fall the next day. So I never argued that. And I think everyone, you know, heard me say that that wasn't the case.
That's not why we're concerned. We're concerned because marriage is a shared public good.
And we're concerned because if you do this you must answer the questions that we have brought forward about why not, and we're concerned because marriage has to be some definitive thing, and that thing which the people of Connecticut know it to be is the union of a man and a woman. That's why.
It isn't because, and obviously I don't believe this, people are going to turn gay because of this legislation.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? Just so I understand correctly, first of all, you've repeatedly said we think this and we think that. For whom are you speaking here today?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, the 100,000 people who signed the petition were people who explicitly said that they opposed same-sex marriage legislation and would support legislation that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
I'm not saying I'm necessarily speaking for each and every one of them, but those people who feel that, basically the arguments that I'm putting forward, that's what they support.
And I think that they're logical arguments. I think there are arguments that if you're going to propose something different you have to have an answer to the questions that are being raised.
REP. LAWLOR: And so if I understand your testimony correctly, you're opposed to any type of legal recognition for same-sex marriages. Is that correct?
BRIAN BROWN: Legal recognition for same-sex marriage. Yes, we oppose same-sex marriage. I mean, even the way you're putting it, legal recognition for same-sex marriage assumes that same-sex marriage already exists.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, for example, there's a number of couples living in Connecticut who are married legally, same-sex couples in Massachusetts, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, elsewhere, so--
BRIAN BROWN: But according to our law they're not married.
REP. LAWLOR: I understand. So you're opposed to recognition of marriages that have already been legally performed elsewhere once they come to, you're opposed to that too, right?
BRIAN BROWN: We're opposed to same-sex marriage, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: Okay. And you're opposed to civil unions, if I understand your testimony correctly, because the bill, the Vermont-style civil union would limit it only to homosexual couples. Is that--
BRIAN BROWN: No. That wasn't the only, the main reason to oppose civil unions is because they are same-sex marriage by a different name.
REP. LAWLOR: And you're opposed to civil unions if they were to be made available to any two persons.
BRIAN BROWN: Of course, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: So we have no option there, right?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, again, I'm testifying on behalf of my organization and myself personally. Yes, civil unions, if you look at what they are, they are the same thing as same-sex marriage.
I know that in legislative bodies the impetus is towards compromise when there are these sorts of divisive issues. That is not a compromise.
REP. LAWLOR: So if we made it look an awful lot different, so it wasn't exactly the same, it was just a completely new and different and unique institution for homosexual couples, you'd be opposed to that or do you think there's something we could work out there?
BRIAN BROWN: We would oppose any attempt to create an institution that mimics marriage or attempts to be a marriage and calling it a different name, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: So no matter how different it was you'd still be opposed to it.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I mean--
REP. LAWLOR: If it was legal recognition for same-sex couples that said that's something, like we recognize small businesses, you've got limited partnerships or whatever, we have all these legal entities.
So if we're just trying to figure out some way of providing important protections and obligations to same-sex couples, it wouldn't really matter how we organized it.
You're just opposed to any kind of legal recognition of same-sex, the fact that there are same-sex couples who love each other, whatever, you're just opposed to that period. Is that right?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, first of all, you said no matter how different, you know, I mean, we're in the realm of, I don't even really know exactly what you're referring to if you say no matter how different.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, you know, the reason I ask is because I think, at least it's been my experience, I've been on this Committee 19 years, no matter what the initiative is, if it has anything to do with homosexuality or gays or anything, it seems like many of the people who are quite vocal on behalf of your organization [inaudible] they've been against everything whether it's anti-discrimination or adoption or pretty much everything. Whatever it is, they're just against it.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, in reference to the adoption law, I mean, that's why you're here. That's part of the reason why you're here.
Your passing the adoption law was one of the reasons why people are now saying, well, we have gay adoption, so you've given us that, now we need same-sex marriage.
I mean, it was a logical progression and, you know, that was the endpoint. I mean, same-sex marriage has been the endpoint of all of this, most of this legislation.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, we take each step at a time. But so in essence, would it be fair to say that you're so concerned about the slippery slope phenomenon that pretty much anything we could do, providing any type of legal recognition to same-sex couples would be opposed by you guys simply because it's part of a slippery slope towards same-sex marriage?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, that wouldn't be the only reason. The only reason wouldn't be that there's a slippery slope argument. It would have to look at whatever particular legislation you're putting forward.
But in general, as I've said before, any legislation that tried to create a mimic or counterfeit marriage or attempts to change the specialness or uniqueness of marriage, yes, we would oppose.
REP. LAWLOR: And you earlier said that you feel quite strongly about putting some type of constitutional ballot out there.
As we know, our neighboring state Massachusetts has such a proposal in the works. It makes it clear as a part of their state constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman, however, at the same time, establishes civil unions.
So obviously if that amendment is adopted as written, men and women are never going to be able to get married in Massachusetts, but they'll have an absolute constitutional right to civil unions.
Would that be good enough for you?
BRIAN BROWN: We would absolutely oppose that also.
REP. LAWLOR: So even though you can't possibly get married in Massachusetts if that passes, you'd still oppose it because of the--
BRIAN BROWN: Well, just, I mean, again, I think you know as well as I do that the constitutional amendment passed in Oregon is currently under, there's a lawsuit that's been filed against that constitutional amendment.
So to say as you just did that you can't possibly ever be married once the constitutional and if the constitutional amendment passes in Massachusetts I think is wrong.
I think that once and if the constitutional amendment in Massachusetts passes which creates civil unions at the same time as saying marriage is between a man and a woman there will be court challenges. There's no question.
REP. LAWLOR: So no matter what we did, if there's an activist court or, for that matter, an activist legislature, we still could end up with the same thing. Is that right?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I think if legislators listen to their constituency, I think that marriage would be protected and defined as the union of a man and a woman.
REP. LAWLOR: So you're presuming we don't, I take it.
BRIAN BROWN: Well, no. You haven't passed same-sex marriage in the last, I think we've been up here three times, so it hasn't been passed yet.
And I think that the people, I think people, what needed to happen, people needed to realize that this was real. A lot of people said this is never going to happen.
And even this hearing, I think, you know, more and more people are hearing that this is going on and they're saying, look, we have to stand up, we have to do something, this is actually happening.
To tell you honestly, I think a lot of people, you know, can't believe that this has gone so far as it has.
And I think that's a large reason why no matter where you put the question, whether it was Oregon, Michigan, or other states, there was such overwhelming turnouts.
And again, I'm not tying this to any political party because both Michigan and Oregon, you know, voted heavily Democratic but also voted to pass state constitutional amendments.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there other questions? Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Brown.
BRIAN BROWN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
REP. WALKER: I have a question. The name of your organization, I'm sorry, that you're representing today is--
BRIAN BROWN: The Family Institute of Connecticut.
REP. WALKER: And how, where do your contributions come from, Sir, can I ask?
BRIAN BROWN: All private donors.
REP. WALKER: All private donors. Okay. You keep defining marriage, that you keep talking about the definition of marriage, it's between a man and a woman.
Could you explain to me, where did you get that definition?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, the definition of marriage, first of all, there's, the core definition of marriage is the union of a man and a woman has not only common sense and social science backing it up, but millennia of human history.
The complementarity of male and female is the foundation of marriage. And cultures that are radically different in many other ways still affirm the need for marriage. It's one of the most trans-historical and multicultural institutions that we have.
So could you point to a place where the binary structure of marriage, the fact that there are two, it's a man and a woman, isn't the case? Yes. But overall, and especially over the course of the last 2,000 years, marriage has been one man, one woman.
Now is that my only argument? No. But if you propose a different definition to marriage, what is the foundation? For example, why even have the binary, the twoness of marriage if you rid it of male and female?
I think that those that would want to change marriage have to make some argument about what is their definition of marriage and have that hold up logically.
REP. WALKER: Because I did actually look up in Webster's Dictionary and it talked about a union between two or more individuals. It talked about a relationship and a union between two individuals.
It didn't talk about a man or a woman. That's why I'm curious where your foundations for the definition of marriage comes from.
And usually, I use Webster as sort of my foundation of getting my definitions, just like discrimination. Like discrimination is when you deny somebody the right or the ability to have a choice.
And you talked about recognition, no, recognizing government or something in the very beginning. I forgot exactly because I didn't have it all, oh, representative government. That was what it was.
If we're going to have a representative government, don't you feel that all individuals should be represented in that government, it should not use discrimination as a way of eliminating somebody's representation opportunities?
BRIAN BROWN: Well, if I accepted that the definition was about discrimination, if I accepted that what I'm arguing is about discrimination, I wouldn't argue it in the first place.
I'm absolutely opposed to discrimination. But I don't believe that marriage in any way is based upon discrimination.
And if your logic is consistent, then marriage must be discriminating against Tom Green in Utah who claims that he's being denied his rights to marriage because he can't marry five women.
Is Tom Green being discriminated against because marriage is in its essence and nature the union of a man and a woman and that the state supports that? No. It's not. It's not discrimination.
So I think your question presumes that I am trying to deny people their rights. I'm not. And that's where the rub is.
That's probably where you and I disagree, is, and people can disagree on these subjects without, again, you know, having evil motivations or whatever else. You know, there are many people that are my friends that I disagree with on different subjects.
What I am saying is that let's concentrate on the argument. Is marriage by its definition as Connecticut currently understands it discrimination? And if so, who is it discriminating against?
And is it discriminating against the person who says I want to marry my brother? I mean, even though that may not happen, let's be logical. Are any parameters of marriage or any definitional quality of marriage, is that discrimination? No. I don't think so.
REP. WALKER: But I do think that what you're doing is you're trying to create a law that discriminates.
It's okay for us to disagree, but I'm not going to create a law to alienate your ability or your rights. There's a big difference in this regard.
You need to, what you're saying is that everybody should have representative government, everybody should have a choice, everybody should be able to be equally heard, but yet we're only equally hearing on a marginal basis.
I'm going to hear you but I'm not going to hear this person because they're choosing to have a marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Is that correct?
BRIAN BROWN: No, that's not correct, because the law currently says that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. The constitutional amendment that would be passed would keep the law as it is and stop the courts from redefining marriage.
REP. WALKER: Okay.
SEN. NEWTON: Just a follow-up right here. I know you made many reference to why couldn't they, a brother or a sister get married, or you just made that commentation, but the way our law is written right now you could not do that.
So even if same-sex marriages did pass the Legislature, and the states that, you know, mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, niece, it gives a litany of things that we cannot do.
So you could not have even with same-sex marriages, you could not have two brothers getting married or two cousins.
So I just want to point that out because you made a couple of commentaries toward that.
BRIAN BROWN: Yeah. No, I wasn't saying that that wasn't in fact the case.
But what I was saying is if all of, if your argument is that any distinction that says that marriage is some definitive thing and that there's a distinction that says, well, marriage is not this but is this.
For example, that you can't marry, you know, your first cousin, or whatever the law is that defines what marriage is.
If you're going to say, well, look, the reason that marriage is wrong is because it's discriminatory, well, then you have to make an argument as to why we should continue to, in your own language, if you're arguing this, discriminate against aunts, brothers, nieces and nephews.
I'm not saying that you're doing that with this legislation. What I'm saying is why not. And are you not then using your own logic discriminating?
Is there, if we define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and your reason to oppose it is to say, well, you're discriminating against two men who want to get married, well, I say no, you're not discriminating against them because marriage by definition is the union of a man and a woman.
But if you accept that, are you discriminating against first cousins? Are you discriminating against the other groups that you say can't get married? I think you have to make some argument if you're saying that marriage is based upon discrimination.
I don't believe marriage is based upon discrimination. I believe marriage is by its definition the union of a man and a woman, and two men simply can't marry.
SEN. NEWTON: Just the point I was making, I just didn't want to give the impression that should that ever come up, I mean, should that argument ever come up, that two siblings could get married, I think that's stretching it. I think, you know, and--
BRIAN BROWN: Well, I agree.
SEN. NEWTON: I think that's stretching, you know, what we're talking about today on, you know, whether it's same-sex marriages.
Then to draw in that, or make a connection that if two cousins wanted to get married, you know, they should have the right to, you know, make that argument. I think that that's--
BRIAN BROWN: Well, yeah, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that if you're going to say that any distinction or any definition of marriage is discrimination then we should be able to bring all of these other instances in.
I was just responding to the idea that my argument about marriage is based upon discrimination. I don't believe it is based upon discrimination.
I believe it's based upon the fact that marriage is something. And once you start ripping that apart, I don't see how you stop. Thank you. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Anne Stanback. You've got 90 minutes.
ANNE STANBACK: Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Judiciary Committee, my name is Anne Stanback and I'm the president of Love Makes a Family.
For the past seven years, our members have been coming to the State Capitol, coming to tell you about ourselves and our families, and to ask you to end discrimination in state laws that keep our families from enjoying the legal protections, financial benefits, and peace of mind that other families in the state take for granted.
And the General Assembly has listened. In 2000, you passed legislation to allow same-sex couples legal rights of adoption, understanding that this was in the best interest of children.
In 2002, you passed a bill to provide a handful of protections, understanding that our families face barriers that made some of life's most difficult times more difficult than they needed to be.
But from day one in our discussions about marriage equality, our message has always been about more than just rights and protections.
We have also asked you to recognize that the inability to marry the person we love denies us participation in one of society's most rewarding and fundamental institutions.
It also denies us respect and dignity and equal treatment under the law.
We know that many legislators this session have voiced support for civil union. We recognize and appreciate that there are legislators who have made significant movement to arrive at this position and have done so after much reflection.
But to those who think that civil unions are everything but the word, we say that marriage is more than the sum of its legal parts.
It is a universally recognized respected cultural, legal, and social institution from which we are excluded.
And for those who think that we should not turn our backs on real rights and protections that civil unions could offer, we say that asking us to bargain away our right to be treated as full citizens in order to get protections is asking us to make an impossible choice.
Clearly, there's a growing desire in this body to address the needs of same-sex couples, but only marriage helps families in the ways you want to help them without compounding apartness and lack of clarity and security.
Marriage will tell gay youth that they can look forward to a future of fair and equal treatment as citizens of Connecticut. Civil union reiterates the message of otherness that they receive all too often.
Marriage will tell the hundreds of thousands of Connecticut children now being raised by same-sex couples that their family is valued. Civil union will tell them that their family is not as good as their best friend's family across the street.
Eight months ago, Massachusetts opened the doors of marriage to all its citizens. Four days ago, a trial court judge in New York City ruled that barring same-sex couples from civil marriage is unconstitutional.
Connecticut is sandwiched now between one state that has ended discrimination in its marriage laws and another that has taken the first step.
Do the thousands of same-sex couples and their families here in Connecticut, the Constitution State, deserve any less. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Representative Cafero.
REP. CAFERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Anne. Thank you for coming here. Anne, as you were giving your testimony I couldn't help but think about the history of this bill and like bills over the past seven years, as you referred to it.
And I have served on this Committee I believe now eight years or ten years, I can't remember which, and have sat through many of these public hearings.
And there has been an evolution, if you will, in the way not only, I think, people on this Committee see the issue, but people in general have seen the issue.
And it wasn't too long ago when you'd hear people, certainly politicians, talk about homosexual individuals and they'd say it's my understanding that those people, of course, I don't know any personally, but, etc., etc.
And now, in large part to organizations such as yours who've encouraged people to be who they are and be open about what they are, many people find out that that person they befriended at work or that good dear friend of theirs, etc., that really decent person who's been a good neighbor or a good church member of synagogue member, etc., happens to be gay.
And now all of a sudden you're not talking about those people's right. You're talking about Betty and Sally and Bob and Ed and people that you know, have worked with, etc. And it's really gone a long way to change people's perceptions on the whole issue.
I was very much in favor of the legislation in 2000 and supported it strongly, as I was in 2002, helped actually author the 2002 legislation you referred to.
As you can imagine, however, and I guess this is part of the thing that I struggle with, it is still, believe it or not, a concept that people struggle with.
When I came here eight years ago, and I would assume when most people in this audience were born, marriage was considered between a man and a woman.
I took some interest in Representative Walker's comments because it almost implied, with all due respect to Representative Walker, that where are you getting this definition of man and woman.
Well, let's face it. That's what we grew up with. Right or wrong, that's what we grew up with.
And we, this concept of civil union came up, a lot of people saying, well, is that marriage in disguise, what exactly is that, etc.
And people realized that the Bobs and Eds and Sallys and Marys of the world were committed to each other as couples, are having certain things, especially financial and health-related things, denied because of them.
And a lot of people, without even getting to the issue of marriage or civil unions, this doesn't seem fair. It doesn't seem fair.
And yet they struggle, and I'm speaking for myself, with this concept of marriage and how we grew up with it and what it means to us and maybe different things to each people.
And we decided what is the happy medium. There was talk about domestic partnership. There's talk about civil union, etc.
And I remember in the seven years that you referred to people coming up and testifying, and I asked them, I said you are in favor of the legislation at the time it was for civil union.
And I said you were in favor of this legislation, there are people who are afraid that this equates to gay marriage.
And there are people that have sympathy and empathy and believe it is right for there to be a relationship or rights bestowed upon two people committed into a relationship, but are having trouble with the whole marriage thing.
And people who represented your organization sat exactly where you sat and I sat exactly here and said we're not talking about gay marriage, we're talking about civil union.
And slowly this Committee unofficially evolved towards that mindset, like, well, gosh, maybe it is fair to help out Bob and Betty and Sally and Mary who we work with and love and are good people. And maybe we should grasp or--
REP. LAWLOR: Excuse me, Representative Cafero. Apparently in the overflow room it's not possible to hear you, so could you just be doubly sure you're going right into the microphone.
REP. CAFERO: I'm sorry. Yeah. Maybe we should consider this civil union business. And all of a sudden we learn this year that your organization, I believe, in particular is not interested, and you correct me if I'm wrong, please, is not interested in this Legislature pursuing anything such as civil union and would want to have either same-sex marriage or nothing. Am I misinformed or am I misspeaking?
ANNE STANBACK: Let me go back to what you said in the beginning of your comment, talked about when people were born that marriage was between a man and a woman.
When I was born, marriage in this country legally was between two people of the same race. Two people of the same race. It wasn't until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned those bans on interracial marriage.
Marriage, my point being that civil marriage in this country has evolved and changed in many different ways, that just being the most recently analogy.
In terms of the mission of Love Makes a Family, if you go back to the first efforts in 1999 and 2000 when we were working on the Second Parent Adoption Law, I'm sure that people did say this is, we are not here talking about marriage.
At that point we were there to talk about adoption. But if you look back at my testimony from 2001 through today, we have, I have always said, we have always said to the press, our members have always said that perhaps, perhaps, you know, three years ago civil union would have been a step in the right direction and we might have supported that, but always we said that the goal was marriage, because nothing but full marriage was full equality.
So I think if you look back you will see that we never, I certainly never would have said that we weren't talking about marriage, because we have always been talking about marriage.
I think that what has happened in the years that we have been up talking to legislators, talking to the public is the world has changed.
We have countries now that are allowing same-sex couples to marry with no detriment to anyone but allowing those families to have more security and more protections.
We have seen our neighboring state Massachusetts allow same-sex couples to marry.
And I think that if you look at the most recent polling here in the State of Connecticut, a plurality of people support allowing same-sex couples to marry. More people support allowing same-sex couples to marry than oppose it.
People needed time to move and to think this through. And I think that they have. And as you said, it's because people like the people here today have come forward.
They have shared their stories, and people understand these are my neighbors, there are my coworkers. All they are asking for is to be treated fairly under the law.
REP. CAFERO: And one of the, I just have a few more questions for you.
One of the concerns I have, and again, unofficially has been shared amongst my colleagues, both sides of the aisle, is that many of us who are struggling with the issue, who were hailed as heroes nary three years ago for voicing support for civil union or domestic partner relationships, are now being criticized for taking that same position if in fact they were not for full same-sex marriage.
And just, and maybe it's irrelevant. But that's how quickly the world is changing. And that is how frustrating it is for people on this side of this bench.
When a year, the last three years we've asked representatives of your organization about how we can make the situation better, more equality, etc., and it has gone from be our friend, be our supporter, vote for civil union, to now don't you dare even bring it up because it's same-sex marriage or nothing.
I guess, I just wanted to share with you that whether real or not that is the perception that many legislators are getting from members of your organization, and it's somewhat disconcerting.
But that being the case, I would like to ask a few questions about the bill that we're testifying about, if I may.
The bill I would like to point to you, lines 41 through 45, and get your opinion on this, if I may read it to you. If you don't happen to have a copy of it, maybe someone could point it to you.
But it says nothing in sections and then it lists a whole bunch of the various laws that pertain to the bill, various sections that relate to the bill.
It says nothing in section 44-A68 etc., etc., etc. shall be deemed or construed, number one, to mean the State of Connecticut condones homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle.
And I want to ask, what does that mean to you and are you supportive or have any opinion on that particular piece of this bill?
ANNE STANBACK: Am I correct that that was language from the Gay Rights Bill passed in 1991 that is referencing? I mean, I don't agree with that language. I think that's just being referenced there from that bill from 1991.
REP. CAFERO: We obviously are proposing changes to this, to the law, and that is what it's proposing in that current bill. If you had your druthers would that section be eliminated?
ANNE STANBACK: Yes.
REP. LAWLOR: Pardon me, Anne. Can you move closer to the microphone--
ANNE STANBACK: I'm sorry. Tell me what line that is.
REP. CAFERO: It's lines 41 through 46, in particular. It says nothing in our laws shall be deemed or construed to mean the State of Connecticut condones homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle.
And like Representative Walker, I too, I looked up condones in the dictionary, and it seems to say to overlook, forgive, or disregard without protest or censure, to pardon or overlook voluntarily, to excuse or overlook or make allowances for.
And what this keeps in the law is this statement that we the State of Connecticut does not, should not be construed to condone homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 1B to Tape 2A.]
ANNE STANBACK: --bisexuality if it is not condoning heterosexuality.
Again, I think it goes back to an issue of fairness and of being treated equally. Our families deserve respect. They are as valid, as loving, as committed as any other family.
And I think that, I don't particularly like that language, but I think that's when people on this Committee and the Legislature get to know our families, they'll see that there's no reason to fear condoning us.
REP. CAFERO: Two more questions, and I know this was touched upon with the last speaker and frankly I personally didn't like the direction it was going.
And I saw a lot of people shake their heads at the question, but maybe this is lost in training Socratic method, think logically, etc.
But what we are doing here is changing the definition of marriage as we have applied it here in Connecticut. Right now they will not allow people of the same sex to be married and this proposed law would allow that to happen.
And we have various restrictions or eligibility requirements for marriage. One is age. You have to be of a certain age to be able to be married.
One is currently your sex. Obviously it has to be of opposite sex. The other is the number of persons involved in the marriage. It is limited to two.
And one is a restriction on the familial relationship or who you are allowed to marry, prohibiting certain marriages between members of a family defined as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, parent, sibling, etc.
I've asked this question and I don't, I ask it with respect, but I really need to hear your position on it because I think it is a logical next question to be asked.
You yourself mentioned in 1967 we allowed interracial couples to be married. And now as we sit here in 2005 in the State of Connecticut discussing same-sex marriage.
Someone asked what's the magic about having opposite-sex marriage, people being married. Some people have a strong opinion on it. What is the magic about the number two, one man, one woman, one man, one man, two.
And I say that with respect in all seriousness because we do have cultures that do allow for multiple-partner marriages. We had a state in this Union that up until I think just the late 1800s allowed multiple marriages.
We have a lawsuit pending in some of our courts of a man who believes he's being deprived from marrying five other individuals.
How do you answer that question? A lot of times we just say, oh, come on now, stop being ridiculous.
But that has to be a question that needs an answer as we progress along talking about changing our marital laws. How would you answer that question then about the magic, if you believe there is some, about the number two?
ANNE STANBACK: Representative Cafero, and I answer in respect, I don't know what the magic is about two.
I can tell you that the work we're going trying to expand Connecticut's marriage laws to allow same-sex couples to marry isn't about number. It's about who can marry, not about how many.
And again, I say this respectfully, at every point in our country's history as we have tried to change marriage laws and have changed marriage laws, whether it was, you know, in the 18th, 19th century when women who married lost all their legal rights, when those laws began to change, the same arguments about polygamy came up.
You know, why, if we allow women to own her own property or sign contracts and wills, you know, this is going to lead to the destruction of marriage, it will lead to general polygamy. There's some wonderful quotes about that in the transcripts.
When the whole issue of bans on interracial marriage were being struck down in different state courts, again if you look at that, at those transcripts and that testimony, you see these same kinds of arguments raised again and again.
And I do believe that it's a hollow argument. And I can't answer you any better than that.
REP. CAFERO: But again, I say it with respect, not as an argument in this issue, but as a helping me understand that when we define marriage, currently defined as a union between one man and one woman, now attempted to be defined as between either one man and one woman or one man and another man or one woman and another woman, is it a far-fetched step, based on even the history you've given, the evolution of this process, to say that someone might have a right to argue that an individual is in love with two other people and that those three people should be allowed to unite in matrimony, regardless of their sex.
And again, I'm saying this not to be facetious, not to be, I'm thinking logically about the magic, if you believe there is one, of the number two, and whether or not you believe in this evolution that there is a possibility, not that you might be in favor of or your group, but there is a possibility that people could argue that that should be expanded to be on two people.
ANNE STANBACK: We have this wonderful system of government where people can come forward and express their ideas and we have a Legislature that will listen to those ideas. So certainly someone could come forward and raise that issue.
But I think what we've seen from the past history of marriage and the changes that have occurred is that making one change does not mean that other changes will necessarily happen.
Allowing people of different races to marry, we didn't see polygamy happen. We didn't see brothers and sisters marrying.
So I think that's, if that issue is raised, you will deliberate that issue and, you know, come to a conclusion. But I don't think it's a logical extension of what we are asking, which is, again, not how many can marry but who can marry.
REP. CAFERO: Do you think, again with the utmost respect, do you think it is discriminatory to limit it to two people?
ANNE STANBACK: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I haven't thought enough about the issue. It certainly gets raised.
But I think that, again, if there are people who would like that to happen they will come forward. There aren't, I haven't seen organized groups in Connecticut that are raising that issue.
But more importantly, I think that it just, it takes us off track and takes us off the important message which is that there are thousands of same-sex couples, some raising children, some not, who need the basic protections and benefits that come with civil marriage.
REP. CAFERO: I understand. With all due respect though, you said I haven't seen groups that come forward. As you and I discussed, ten years ago there were not groups that came forward to this Legislature and asked for same-sex marriage. So it evolves.
Along those lines, we currently, in lines 17 through 23, have a prohibition against people marrying their parents, their grandparent, their child, their grandchild, sibling, parent sibling, sibling's child, stepparent or stepchild.
I would like to get, and again, for the sake of this debate and the intellectual side of this debate with regard to changing the definition of marriage, your opinion on that portion of this bill and whether or not you believe it should remain that way, and if so, why?
ANNE STANBACK: I believe it should remain that way. But I think that when we talk about, and Brian talked about, you know, providing benefits for the grandfather and the grandson, or the aunt and the niece, I think it benefits, and protection shouldn't be a zero-sum game.
I mean, government is about figuring out how do you help families and how do you get them through as best they can through life's difficult challenges.
And so allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn't mean that we can't figure out other ways to help that grandfather and that grandson.
But I think in terms of marriage, I do agree with Brian that marriage is a unique institution, and I don't think that that's, that father, son, grandfather, grandson, marriage is not about that.
REP. CAFERO: Why, Anne? I mean, why do you feel that way? Why do you feel that provision as I just read it to you should remain in the law, that prohibition?
ANNE STANBACK: I just don't believe that this is the purpose of marriage. I mean, I think that marriage is, it is not just about love.
It encompasses a whole range of components, commitment, sexual love, taking on responsibility for one another.
Again, I believe that you can help those, you know, the grandfather and the grandson, the mother and the daughter, without allowing them to marry and provide basic protections.
Again, I think because of those connections by blood--
REP. LAWLOR: Excuse me, Anne, if you could just get a little closer to the microphone. I think that in the overflow room, we're trying to deal with a technical problem, but the testimony and the questions can't really be heard that clearly.
ANNE STANBACK: I think in many of these relationships, because there's a blood connection, there already are some legal rights.
For instance, when somebody ends up in the hospital, a mother has a right to visit her daughter, to make medical decisions for her daughter if that daughter is underage. If there are, there are a whole range of issues where there already is the ability to offer rights and protections.
I don't think that you need marriage for these relationships, so I certainly would agree keeping that in the bill.
REP. CAFERO: And in the celebrated case of Woody Allen, the movie director and actor, and I don't know the exact legal relationship he had with his now wife, but I understand she was the adopted child of his then wife Mia Farrow, I believe is her name, the actress.
They are now married, her adopted child and Woody Allen. That was, I guess, loosely a stepfather-stepchild relationship.
In that particular case, that union, according to Woody Allen and the young woman who is now his wife, was based upon love and commitment to each other.
Is that something that should be prohibited by our laws, as it seems to be, with regard to this piece of legislation?
ANNE STANBACK: You know, I'm not an expert on that issue. I'm not going to judge anybody's marriage to someone where that marriage was legally valid. I can't really say more than that on that.
REP. CAFERO: I guess what those kind of questions, the more the sanctity of the number two, the Woody Allen example, for lack of a better word, whether you agree with it or not, and I think, I hope we could all understand that it isn't an easy answer.
And to many people, even the same-sex marriage issue is not easy. It is uncomfortable for a whole host of reason. And we struggle with it and we try to arrive at a decision based upon a vote. But it isn't easy.
It is not easy. And I guess, and I certainly don't say that to look for sympathy. Remember, we signed up for this job, it's our job.
But I think you have to respect, just as I respect your struggling with those questions I asked you, you have to respect those in our position struggling with this concept at very least. Please.
ANNE STANBACK: I do respect that. And I just want to reiterate that, as I said in my testimony, we appreciate how far many legislators have come to get to civil union. I absolutely acknowledge that.
And we know we have a lot of friends here in the Legislature, and they may not agree with our position, but that doesn't mean that they're still not our friends.
And what we hope to do is just continue to talk about this issue and make it clear again that it's not just about rights and benefits. It's about the badge of citizenship that marriage offers.
REP. CAFERO: And lastly, my last question to you is this, if, and you know the process as well as we all do. You've been around and know the process.
If it turned out that neither of the two bills before us came to the floor of the House of the Senate for a vote, bless you, and that the bill that was before, be it by amendment or committee bill that came out of this committee, if the bill that was before the Legislature for an up or down vote was civil union similar to that as in Vermont, where would your organization stand on that issue?
ANNE STANBACK: Before I answer that let me go back to your last question and just say one piece about the discomfort that people feel, because I do understand that.
And I understand that this is, was a new issue for people five years ago when we first started talking about it, and that people have come along.
There was a legislator in Massachusetts who talked on the floor of the House about how she struggled with this issue but that she wasn't going to let her own discomfort get in the way of what she believed was a civil rights issue.
Today in the Hartford Courant, Representative John Lewis says much more articulately than I could say basically the same thing.
So if there was a civil union bill before you on the floor of the House, I mean, what I would say is I can't tell you how to vote, but I can say that if you do want to protect families and give them equal treatment you have another choice and the choice is marriage.
We believe that civil union creates a separate and unequal marital status for one group of people. That's something that the State of Connecticut has never done. And we just don't think that we should start now.
REP. CAFERO: Anne, and I appreciate that response, but as we know and you know, at times you are faced with the bell rings and there's two choices, red or green.
And the bill on the board, in my hypothetical, is civil union, what would your organization hope the legislators, which button should they press?
ANNE STANBACK: As we will be saying for the coming months, we oppose the civil union and we will continue to tell you about that and why we believe, it will be not a stepping stone but a stopping point in this discussion because we will have created gay marriage.
And I just don't believe that we'll be back here again to get what we really feel we deserve and what we need, the full protections of marriage.
REP. CAFERO: So if it came to the point where we had no opportunity to vote on the issue of gay marriage and the only vote with regard to this subject matter was civil union, it is the position of your organization that we vote no.
ANNE STANBACK: We would say vote no for this session, understanding that we're going to come back. Civil rights struggles take time. They take patience. They take vision. We will be back.
And I think that when we come back that people will be more comfortable. They will have moved along the path. And the poll numbers will be better.
And as we've seen in Massachusetts, no legislator who voted against that constitutional amendment was defeated in 2004 elections.
REP. CAFERO: Anne, thank you very much for your candor.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you, Representative.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Handley.
SEN. HANDLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon, Anne.
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon.
SEN. HANDLEY: I've lived a long time and sometimes in the morning I realize how long it is as I try to get myself up and out of bed, so long that, you know, I've known a lot of people, including my mother, women who were not allowed to vote when they were very young.
And I have seen the literature that's talked about, what would happen to the family if women got the right to vote, then it would hurt families, it would hurt domestic life, it would hurt the children whose mothers went out to vote.
I can remember myself seeing signs in the South, because I grew up in Baltimore, spent a few years in Baltimore, and I can remember seeing signs for colored only or for white only. I remember those.
And when the desegregation laws began to follow the Supreme Court decision, I remember the discussions, you know, to end segregation is going to destroy civilization as we know it throughout not only the South, but in the North as well.
I grew up, we just celebrated, I don't know whether you celebrate, commemorated the opening, or the liberation of Auschwitz.
I grew up in the Second World War and remember very clearly the stories that came as the war ended about the treatment of Jews and the stories that I didn't hear but that I knew, that, you know, life was hurting, that to let Jews stay in Germany was going to hurt them.
Each one of these kinds of discriminations, these kind of stuff, were based as homosexuality, anti-homosexuality legislation, on what people don't have any choices about, and yet, and the argument was to change these is going to hurt society.
If we were to pass this law that's proposed here, this civil, I mean this marriage law that would permit gay marriages, do you see any hurt to society? I'm setting you up here, Anne, I know. But do you see any hurt?
ANNE STANBACK: I don't see any hurt. And, in fact, I don't understand when people say that it will hurt the institution of marriage, it will hurt married couples.
I think all it will do is just open those doors as they've done in Massachusetts and give those protections and give that status, it is an important status in our society, to more people.
Not everybody's going to choose to marry from the gay community as not everyone from the heterosexual community chooses to marry, but it needs to be a choice.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Newton.
SEN. NEWTON: Thank you. Good afternoon, Anne.
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon, Senator.
SEN. NEWTON: I listened to your testimony and on your discussion about having same-sex marriage legislation instead of civil union would make you, would make people feel whole, would make everyone feel whole.
And you talked about the interracial marriages and that if we did a civil unions bill that children would feel [inaudible] they would feel, you know, that this law would make them feel a part of so people don't look at them differently.
And being Afro American, we pass laws to change things but it still doesn't stop people from thinking and feeling the way they're going to feel. That's one thing.
So no law we pass will beat out bigotry, ignorance. And I don't want you to think that if we pass civil union or same-sex marriage bill that you'll be treated, people will be treated equally.
As an Afro American man, and watching the laws pass for the voting and desegregation of schools, if you look at America I couldn't say we're treated equally.
So I don't want you to be na´ve to think that whatever we do is going to make people, you know, make everyone feel a part of.
So the question is, and you told Representative Cafero, Connecticut has come a long way with civil unions, that you all would be willing to risk not having anything if you couldn't have same-sex marriages.
ANNE STANBACK: We'd be willing to take that risk this session because we don't see it as that great of a risk. We believe in the rightness of this struggle.
And we believe that given the chance to talk to couples, to talk to gay youth about why having our state government tell them that they are equal, that they have a future with the person they love, we believe that we will get there very shortly, and that civil union would be an impediment to that, that it would slow down that progress, that people say that's enough.
We saw that happen in Vermont. They passed civil union five years ago. They have absolutely no interest in going back and revisiting the issue in order to provide marriage for those citizens.
I think that you raise a very good point about the fact that passing laws, court decisions, it's not going to change people's attitudes overnight and it's not going to mean that they're going to treat us equally and fairly.
All we can ask is that our government treats us equally and fairly. And I believe once that happens there will be a trickle-down in public attitude.
SEN. NEWTOWN: Final question. I have a great respect for John Lewis and Al Sharpton. But explain to me, and I'm trying to figure this one out, I understand the equality piece, but the civil rights piece is a piece that I don't understand. And I read it.
Could you help me understand how this is a civil rights issue? And I read John Connors, who I was with this summer, I respect, and all the black leaders who feel that way, but help me understand.
ANNE STANBACK: I think civil rights with a small C, small R, civil rights in the general, broadest sense, in the same way that we talked about civil rights of women, in the same way that Gandhi worked for civil rights for those in India, civil rights as being treated equally under our State Constitution.
I would never be so presumptuous as to say that the struggle that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face is the same struggle that African Americans face. Absolutely not.
But John Lewis and Dr. King are our heroes too, and we learned from that movement and that struggle. And we learn that there are times when a right is so fundamental that you just can't compromise.
SEN. NEWTON: Thank you.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you for your testimony, Anne.
I have a couple questions, probably more of a statement. I don't want to rehash all of the questions that Representative Cafero had asked you.
But he and I over the years on these issues have tended to agree more often than not. And I know that I have supported a number of prior pieces of legislation dealing with same-sex couples and adoption issues.
And as Representative Cafero stated, at the time we were lauded as heroes, especially when going against members of our own caucus for standing up for those rights.
I will say that it does hurt a little bit that after going that far out, recently I was trying to articulate, not as well as Representative Cafero, some of the questions that have been raised in the local media, to the local media.
And, of course, a few sentences taken out of context of what I was trying to say dealing with the civil rights piece regarding same-sex marriage and the idea of polygamy or even blood relations marrying.
And was brutally, in my opinion, because I've never gotten letters to the editor that were negative about me in my 11 years, but I finally did get a few letters that were upset with me, calling me a throwback to the '50s, which I never thought I was. But you're making my grandparents proud by hearing that.
But do you understand what we go through when dealing with the civil, even with the small C, small R, civil rights piece of this issue, that as legislators we have to think about what the courts will decide once we pass legislation and how they might interpret?
Because I do think that there are some judges who are, who interpret our laws and some who are more activist judges, so we have to consider what the future will bring.
Do you understand, and I don't mean that in a condescending way at all, what we, what's going through our minds when thinking about passing legislation based upon civil rights, that it could open other doors, as far-fetched as they may seem?
ANNE STANBACK: I only understand that to the extent that I understand it in the ways that it has been used in past struggles.
As Senator Handley said, we heard these arguments when women were trying to get the right to vote, when, you know, struggles to try to end discrimination against women and marriage laws and divorce laws, African American civil rights struggles certainly, saying that we're going too fast.
I simply think that that is a false argument. And that we are your constituents too. And the U.S. Supreme Court has said that marriage is a fundamental civil right. That is all we mean when we refer to this as a civil rights issue.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: And you would probably know more than I would, when the U.S. Supreme Court determined it was a civil right, did they define marriage in any way? Did they say between a man and a woman? Did they say between two people? Did they use a number? How did they define it?
ANNE STANBACK: I'm not a lawyer. But there's a wonderful case that came from the U.S. Supreme Court. I believe it was, I think it was in the '80s, and it had to do with allowing prisoners the right to marry.
And in that case, and I don't remember what the four points, but the U.S. Supreme Court laid out four things that were required for marriage. None of those four had anything to do with gender.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Okay. And just, I think one final question, because, again, Representative Cafero asked most of my questions.
What do you say to members of your organization or the general public that are pushing for same-sex marriage when you are saying we won't accept anything less whatsoever, whether it be civil union, even if it's the same exact thing as marriage but it's not called marriage?
How do you address that issue when some might say to you but it's something more than we have now, it's a lot more than we have now, and you're risking something, possibly something never happening.
Maybe a [inaudible] does pass, which, by the way, even though he's a member of my own party, I disagree with the idea of using the Constitution in this manner.
I disagree with my president, even though I voted two years ago against what equates to be same-sex marriage. I don't think the Constitution should be used that way.
But what if something happens in the interim? Do you say to your members it's worth the risk?
Do you say don't worry, you know, what do they do in the interim, what do they do next year if they could have had civil union, or the year after that? How do you explain that to them?
ANNE STANBACK: We certainly do not think that every gay person has the same view on this issue.
Our board of directors that made that decision represents a range of statewide organizations that work on these issues, represents grassroots representatives from throughout the State of Connecticut and different regional chapters.
And this was not a decision that we came to lightly. We looked at it from every angle. We talked to national folks. We talked to state folks.
And in the final analysis, we felt looking at all the information that we simply had to stand up for full equality.
And I believe that the world is changing quickly on this issue and that it is not a risk, in fact that it will move us to marriage, which is our goal, faster than having civil unions.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Just to follow up, do you think that it would be, you said we're very close, do you think we'd be this close if Vermont never passed their civil union law five years ago?
ANNE STANBACK: No. I think that Vermont, at the time I think that was a very hard decision for their Freedom to Marry group because it started as a marriage case before the Vermont Supreme Court. As you know, the court ruled that you could not, they [inaudible] sent it to the legislature for the legislature to figure out the decision.
And I think at that point in time we did not have the Netherlands or Belgium or Canada or Massachusetts, where same-sex couples were legally marrying. So Vermont was on new territory.
But the world moves forward. And I think people have become comfortable with Vermont. In fact, in the last election we heard quite a lot about the 11 states that passed constitutional amendments, about the 20% of moral voters.
What we didn't hear was that in Vermont a majority of people there support allowing same-sex couples to marry. More people support marriage than civil unions
So that, having civil unions happen in Vermont has moved the debate forward. Having couples be allowed to marry in Massachusetts turns the page.
And I think that with couples being able to marry in Massachusetts, and, as I said, the New York court taking that first step towards hopefully allowing couples in New York to marry, civil union feels like a step backwards.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Roraback.
SEN. RORABACK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Anne.
ANNE STANBACK: Good afternoon, Senator.
SEN. RORABACK: I'm going to make reference to the New York Times, December 9th, 2004, front-page headline, groups debate slower strategy on gay rights.
And I don't know if you saw this article—
ANNE STANBACK: What was the date again?
SEN. RORABACK: December 9th, 2004. And the article talks about the human rights campaign and their meeting in Las Vegas and how the group decided that they ought to put their personal interests ahead of their political interests.
And by that I mean, I think the conclusion they reached was that it was better to secure victories that would [inaudible] to people's personal benefits rather than to pursue a prize, a political prize that would be kind of the go-for-broke strategy that evidently has been embraced in Connecticut.
So I guess my first question for you is I would imagine there's probably a division of opinion within the gay and lesbian community about the propriety or the wisdom of saying let's, we don't, if civil unions were passed we wouldn't want them versus those that say, you know, jeez, that's not such a bad thing to have if somebody dies [inaudible] they have inheritance rights to get the tax breaks that would come along with a civil union.
So maybe if you could briefly tell us how deeply split the gay and lesbian community is over the question of whether or not to welcome a civil, well, what troubles me, and I'm like Representative Cafero and Senator Cappiello.
What we heralded as a civil rights triumph five years ago is now being offered to us as an affront to people's sensibilities.
I mean, it's so hard for me to reconcile that. And maybe you could talk about within the community people you represent, the range of opinions that are out there.
ANNE STANBACK: And I hear that struggle. And I understand that this is difficult.
I think that when the Human Rights Campaign and other national LGBT organizations came together to talk about this there were different opinions, but when we made the decision that we were going to stand for marriage and just for marriage, every one of the national organizations called and said we support you, we stand behind you 100%.
Those groups don't always see eye to eye. So to have the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, GLAAD, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, every one of those national groups saying that is the right decision in Connecticut.
It wouldn't be the right decision in North Carolina or in Mississippi or in Missouri, but it is the right decision in Connecticut, because this Legislature has shown leadership on gay issues for many, many years.
This is one of the few states in the country where we can pass marriage through our Legislature. And I think that we have a choice but you have a choice too. And I hope that you will consider that choice of marriage.
You've heard from our opponents they consider civil union to be marriage by another name. They are not going to be happy if civil union passes.
So if you want to protect families, you're not really getting a break from the opposition by supporting civil unions. I think that there is not total agreement in the gay community about this position.
But what I have found in the last several weeks since the decision became public is that, like the marriage issue itself, where people needed time to think about it, to work it through in their minds, and they have come around to supporting marriage.
In that same way, as we have talked to people in our community about this decision, the first response may be, well, that doesn't make sense, why wouldn't we take rights and protections now.
But given the chance to talk it over, to think through the arguments, as our board did, people say I understand that, I want the right to marry, I believe that civil union doesn't provide all the protections.
Civil union stops at the state line so that same-sex couples, where they have civil unions in Connecticut couldn't move or travel and take our protections with us, something that married couples take for granted.
We don't have even the opportunity to try to get those significant federal benefits that come with marriage, things like Social Security and pension rights.
We have a federal DOMA now, but by being able to marry and having several states that allow couples to marry, we will have the opportunity to challenge what we believe is an unconstitutional law in the federal DOMA.
SEN. RORABACK: And I guess there's also a court case that's looming out there, the resolution of which will likely have a bearing on what this body does.
And I suppose one of your options would have been to hold in abeyance any kind of legislative initiative pending the courts answering the question of whether under Connecticut's Constitution the right to marriage is a civil right available to all, because that would have obviously a huge impact on what we do here. But you chose not to adopt the wait-and-see attitude.
ANNE STANBACK: That's right. We have different branches of government and they all have a role to play.
And throughout our history, minority groups have been granted civil rights through both legislatures and from courts, and both branches of government have an important role.
But Love Makes a Family began working in the Legislature. We would love to pass marriage through the Legislature.
We don't believe that if it ends up in the courts, we do believe that that is just as valid of a ruling if they were the ones who determines that same-sex couples to marry.
But we don't want to wait three years if we don't have to. We want to use this as an educational opportunity and hopefully as an opportunity to move hearts and minds and have you understand that marriage is really the only way to provide those full protections.
SEN. RORABACK: And lastly, evidently there's not unanimity within the gay and lesbian community about the wisdom of going for broke versus the wisdom of welcoming the passage of a civil union bill.
I'll read one paragraph from this New York Times story which says Representative Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, who, like Mr. Frank, is openly gay, said the gay rights movement was caught unprepared for the ballot initiatives this year.
She also endorsed an incremental approach to winning rights for gay couples, securing the component parts of marriage benefits one at a time. So there's obviously a range of opinion in the world.
And I appreciate your acknowledgement there's a range of opinion amongst the people that you are representing today. And I hope you can appreciate that those of us over here hear from people in the world with their range of opinion every day.
ANNE STANBACK: I certainly understand that. I understand that people like Representative Baldwin are in Congress and they are looking at this issue on a national level. And that the northeast, New England is very different when it comes to this issue.
I do not believe there'll be a backlash in Connecticut if you vote to allow same-sex couples to marry. And I think that the public is there. They're ready for this discussion. They're ready for this decision.
SEN. RORABACK: Thank you. Just one point. I wish I could share with Anne the 500 e-mails I received since this hearing has begun if she doesn't think there would be a backlash, whether it would be a justifiable backlash or a meritorious backlash.
People can disagree. But there would be some backlash, in my opinion, judging from the tenor and volume of the e-mails that are coming my way. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
ANNE STANBACK: We haven't started our e-mail process.
REP. LAWLOR: I wouldn't presume to speak for Anne, but I'm sure if you'd like an additional 500 e-mails in your, I think Anne could probably arrange that in a few minutes.
It appears like it's not very difficult to do, at least from what I can see over here. Are there further questions? Thank you very much.
ANNE STANBACK: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: You've got another 35 minutes if you'd like to. Next is Donna Pasciutti and she'll be followed by Terry Lawrence, then Robert Muckle, J. Busch, Nancy Stratford, and John Owens. So please come on down.
And before you begin, Ms. Pasciutti, it's, based on our previous experience, I just want to give everybody an option in case you feel like for whatever reason you won't be able to testify today and you've signed up.
It's perfectly acceptable to provide a copy of whatever written statement you would have read to the Committee provided to our Committee staff.
You do not need to give them 65 copies. If you've got 65 copies it'll be distributed to us. But if you only have one or two, give it to them. That'll be included with the file that encompasses the bill and it'll be part of the permanent Legislative Record as well.
So if anyone would like to do that, or anyone watching at home for that matter wants to send something in, that's certainly acceptable. Everyone's opinions are considered. So just FYI. So please proceed.
DONNA PASCIUTTI: Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Donna Pasciutti and I am a resident of Southington. I am in opposition to S.B. 963.
First off, I would like to say that I have been married for 22 years, and I have a childhood friend who I'm still close with who is gay and I love him very much and I respect my friend very much for the love that's within in.
My respect for my gay friend and for any person that is gay does not impact my view of what marriage is.
Marriage is more than an arbitrary term. The very essence of marriage from the beginning of all time is a natural union between a man and a woman.
A relationship between two people of the same sex is not a marriage. This type of relationship may be one of committed friendship and loyalty, but it is not marriage.
The male and female complete each other. Just consider how the physical bodies are designed and the natural union of the two coming together as one.
Only a male and female can procreate. Only a man and woman can fully and truly come together as one.
At issue is not equality. Equality cannot make something into something else. An apple cannot become an orange. This is not about disrespecting others.
People in same-sex relationships have a right to their own preferences, but my respect for their freedom does not mean that I change the historical definition of marriage.
A same-sex relationship, no matter how committed the partners are, is not a marriage. Marriage is a natural union between a man and a woman. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions from Members of the Committee? Thank you. Next is Terry Lawrence, followed by Robert Muckle, and then J. Busch. Good afternoon.
TERRY LAWRENCE: Good afternoon. Members of the Committee and folks here, this April my partner and I will celebrate our 36th anniversary.
We have been out to our families for the past 25 years and everyone accepts us and refers to us as the aunts.
We came to Connecticut in the early '70s to teach at Southern Connecticut State University. Hired as full professors, we were spared the often difficult task of rising through the academic ranks as a possible homosexual.
At Southern, I worked very closely with the State Department of Education to establish a regional training and support network for teachers of children with disabilities ages four to six and their families.
Later I was asked to co-chair a task force to consider a Connecticut mandate for services for children aged birth to three. After the Governor accepted our recommendations, I was asked to sit on the state advisory committee.
If my partner and I were so fortunate, why are we so concerned about passage of the marriage act.
At our ages, we have the following concerns. First, there is a disposition of our estates. Current Connecticut laws require a non-relative [inaudible] pay a much higher inheritance tax than a married couple.
For us this would diminish already modest [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 2A to Tape 2B.]
--in the event one of us is judged unable to do so.
Third, we worry about having access to each other and to any attending medical personnel during a medical emergency or an acute illness.
The practice in most hospitals is to deny visitation or information to anyone but family. Technically we're legal strangers.
We have had our attorney draw up the legal documents to cover the situations cited. However, such documents are often ignored by hospital personnel.
Since I last testified, Caroline and I are facing some new health issues. I have a serious heart problem and Caroline has a troublesome intestinal condition.
The concerns outlined above are no longer hypothetical. They're uncomfortably real for us.
All or our lives we've lived as productive, honest, helpful people, committed to our families and to our faith community. And as professionals, we've been helping children and their families for more years than we want to remember.
Since my retirement I have had two goals. One was to become an interfaith minister. Last June I was ordained.
The other was to have the same rights and privileges as other married people so that Caroline and I can be assured that we will be at each other's side and that our last moments together can be spent in the kind of peace and dignity we have earned and that we deserve.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Questions? Senator Roraback.
SEN. RORABACK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon. It's nice to see you again. Welcome back.
With reference to the immediate issues that you are your partner face, are you of like mind that if we were to pass a civil union bill which addressed many of those needs, for instance, would lower the estate tax burden for property passing back and forth, would you not welcome that?
TERRY LAWRENCE: That's--
SEN. RORABACK: If we did that now. You know, we can wait three years and see what happens with the courts and this and that.
But I struggle with the fact that a bill that addressed many of the very real issues before you wouldn't be welcome at some level.
TERRY LAWRENCE: That's a hard one to answer because it is tempting. It looks great. But the thing that I think that the Civil Rights Movement has taught us is that separate is simply not equal.
And maybe we're unrealistic, very likely, but we don't have a lot of years. And so if we can go for marriage as opposed to a half a package, we'd rather take our chances with that.
And it might be a poor call, but that's why we feel as strongly as we do.
SEN. RORABACK: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Any other questions. Thank you very much.
TERRY LAWRENCE: You're welcome.
SEN. MCDONALD: Robert Muckle, followed by J. Busch and Nancy Stratford.
ROBERT MUCKLE: Good afternoon. My name is Robert E. Muckle from Waterbury. My background is natural family planning and Connecticut Right to Life. And I ask that you vote against this S.B. 963.
This past July, I attended a panel discussion sponsored by the West Hartford Human Rights Commission in the West Hartford Town Hall.
Maureen Murphy, Esq., a family law attorney who supports same-sex marriage, had a stack of papers about a foot high. These were the regulations for the State of Connecticut on marriage.
The thought that came to my mind, if same-sex marriage legislation is passed in Connecticut, in a very short period of time that stack of papers would grow to two feet.
If we were a civilized society, the stack of papers would be about one inch, maybe two.
When you get down to it, all we need is one sheet of paper that says in the beginning a man will leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two of them will become one flesh. That sentence says it all.
By the two of them, husband and wife, becoming one flesh and children as a result we get the family. All civilization is based on the family.
If you destroy the family, which the passage of this bill would do, you would put the finishing touch on the destruction of our society.
This is the third time I've testified here on this type of legislation. The first time I quoted Anglican Bishop Charles Gore at the Lambeth Conference in 1930 when he said that the acceptance of contraception would lead to the eventual acceptance of homosexuality.
The second year I quoted the Washington Post editorial of March 22, 1931, after the Federation of American Churches followed the Lambeth Conference guide that, quote, the committee's report would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality, as we can see today.
This year I want to quote Professor Charles Rice of Notre Dame Law School. Quote, the acceptance of contraception made the legalization of same-sex marriage inevitable. The contraceptive ethic makes man of both sexes the arbiter of whether and when sex will have any relation to procreation.
It reduces any objections to homosexual activity to the pragmatic or esthetic, unquote.
Our so-called sexual revolution of the '60s became a sexual revolt. How is it going to end?
If you have any regard for our civilization and the welfare of the family, you will reject this bill. I say that we have had enough.
It's time to reflect on the past 40 years, see the harm that has been done, and start t return to sanity.
I just want to make one comment [inaudible] the thought that keeps coming to my mind is keep it simple, stupid. I don't mean to be insulting anybody. But really, husband, wife, children, it says it all. You can't improve it. All you do is make things worse.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. Are there any questions? Thank you. Next is J. Busch, followed by Nancy Stratford and John Owens.
JEFFREY BUSCH: Good afternoon, Chairman McDonald, Chairman Lawlor, and Members of the Committee.
My name is Jeffrey Busch. This is my partner, Stephen Davis. We have a two-and-a-half-year-old well-adjusted son named Elijah. And we're here today to share with you why it is so important to our family that Stephen and I be able to marry one another.
Our family looks a lot like a lot of other families in Connecticut. Stephen and I have been together for 15 years. We love each other and we plan to spend the rest of our lives together.
I grew up in Wilton, Connecticut. Stephen actually can trace his roots back a little further to 1635 in Connecticut. We moved to New York City, but we moved back to Wilton because we believed it would be a wonderful place to raise a child.
In 2002, our son Eli was born. And like many parents we juggle our professional lives, mine as an administrative judge, Stephen's as a digital library program director at Columbia University.
And we do this in order to spend as much time as possible with our son. We take Eli to music group. We take him to yoga class, to the library readings, to our local synagogue, Temple B'nai Chaim.
Like many couples, we value and take care of our extended families as well. We moved into my mother's home in Wilton to maximize the time that Eli can spend with us as well as with his grandmother.
And from our joint finances, we help pay for nursing care for Stephen's mother who is severely incapacitated with multiple sclerosis.
But even though Stephen and I have been a couple for 15 years, even though we've taken responsibility for each other, intermingled our finances, we're raising a child together, our family is disadvantaged because Stephen and I are denied the right to marry.
We do not want our son to feel any different than the other kids. Eli should not have to grow up feeling that his family is not as good as his friends' families because his parents are not permitted to marry.
As Eli grows up, we don't want him to have to explain to anyone that his parents have something that's almost like marriage.
If Connecticut does not allow Stephen and I to marry, we will someday have to explain that to Eli that this is because in Connecticut we are deemed to be a less valid family.
Frankly, Stephen and I would have no way of explaining this without it breaking everyone's heart.
Our family has experienced firsthand the vulnerability we will continue to face because Stephen and I cannot marry.
In June 2004, we were returning from a trip abroad and we stopped by, we were stopped by Canadian Immigration on the way back to the United States.
And the officials demanded to know where Eli's mother was and what was Stephen's relationship to the child.
The agent did not care that I was listed as Eli's parent on his passport, that I had his birth certificate listing me as the parent.
Marriage, however, is a universally recognized relationship. If Stephen and I had been married, we would not have had to face this distressing and potentially devastating situation.
I now work only part time to spend even more time with Eli. I would not receive Social Security survivor benefits if Stephen were to die, and that loss would translate directly into a loss for our child Eli.
Our retirement plans are taxed differently because we're not married. And one day, well, currently we pay taxes on the value of my portion of our family health insurance that spouses would have to pay.
We're asking you, our representatives, to do the right thing, the fair thing for our family and the many other same-sex couples in Connecticut.
We hope that you will vote that Raised S.B. 963 ought to pass because only marriage can provide our family with full security and protection. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any questions? Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Senator. And, you know, that last thing raised an interesting question. I take it from the way you described it you're under your partner's health insurance plan from your partner's employer. Is that right?
JEFFREY BUSCH: That is correct.
REP. LAWLOR: And so your employer provides that benefit to all their employees, I take it. And so even though that's something your employer provides, you end up having to pay taxes on that as if it were regular income. Is that right?
JEFFREY BUSCH: My partner has to pay taxes.
REP. LAWLOR: The partner pays it.
JEFFREY BUSCH: As if it's income to him because it's a benefit to a non-family member. And that's considered taxable.
REP. LAWLOR: So that's strange because I know there's a lot of people watching this on television, obviously, in the audience here, and I think they think of a lot of the variety of technicalities.
But I think that's one in particular that strikes people as not fair because obviously married couples where one spouse benefits from the other's policy, and that's very commonplace in our state, would be shocked if they ever had a tax bill for that incident.
And I think this is one of, I guess, thousands of examples of where the law doesn't legally recognize the uniqueness of what you're describing as really a married-type relationship. Right? I mean, you're saying that's what it is, right?
JEFFREY BUSCH: That's correct.
REP. LAWLOR: And the issue is should we recognize what you really have.
STEPHEN DAVIS: If I could just say, I'm grateful that Columbia University provides same-sex domestic partner benefits because not all companies and firms do. But even so, we then have the extra hit from the tax laws.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, we get this, you know, this comes up a lot because the State of Connecticut provides this benefit to all of our state employees, so state employees have, who are in gay and lesbian relationships get this benefit.
And we've gotten complaints, people felt they were being discriminated against because they found out there was a tax consequence to this.
And, you know, we have to explain that it's not us making these rules. It's the federal government that does this. But actually, you know, the state would do it as well because our taxes bootstrap off of the federal system.
So this is just one of a lot of examples of how it just doesn't seem fair. And obviously the bill before us is one way to solve that problem.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any other questions? Representative Gonzalez.
REP. GONZALEZ: How old is your son?
JEFFREY BUSCH: Pardon?
REP. GONZALEZ: How old is your son now?
JEFFREY BUSCH: He's two and a half.
REP. GONZALEZ: He's two and a half. And you, and I believe that you just said that you don't want to be different, that because you're not married you don't want to be different, you know, in front of your son or something like that you said, right?
JEFFREY BUSCH: That's correct.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. And why, right now you're different because when he, if he grow up, when he grow up he's going to ask, you know [inaudible]. Do you think that in his eyes you're not different right now as a couple?
JEFFREY BUSCH: Oh, in his eyes, we are his entire world right now. We are the only family that exists in his eyes.
And it's easy for us to explain that there are different types of families, some with a mommy, some with a mommy and a daddy, and some with two daddies. Some people can grow up with a grandma.
But when he's asked so are your parents married, or if he asks why not, what can we possibly say as to why we are not married?
REP. GONZALEZ: You're saying that two years old he asks you--
JEFFREY BUSCH: He won't ask us now. He doesn't even know what marriage is now. He will not do that now. And that's what a four-year-old or a five-year-old or a six-year-old might ask.
REP. GONZALEZ: And okay, so you say you have to be ready, you know, if by any chance this doesn't pass, you have to be ready for that.
But also, you don't think that you have to be ready to ask questions like where is my mom? You're not ready for that or you--
JEFFREY BUSCH: We're absolutely ready for that. We're fully prepared for that.
The law has allowed, actually through the extraordinary efforts of this legislative body, it's allowed for the both of us to be lawful parents of Eli, which allows us to tell him, you know, yes, I am your daddy, Stephen is your papa.
And we're asking for the leadership of this legislative body to say your family is as valid as any other family.
I should say that Stephen and I were the 60th couple in New York City to sign up for domestic partnership registry.
And I suppose in Connecticut that means nothing. It really doesn't. It means that I can visit Stephen in prison if we were within New York City limits.
And I had an opportunity to actually fill out a dental thing out West recently where it said single or married.
And I wrote in 1993 we did a domestic partnership in New York City and while that has no legal ramifications in Connecticut where we currently live, we are living together as a married couple. And it was, of course, more information than we wanted to provide the dentist.
STEPHEN DAVIS: Or the dentist wanted to hear.
REP. GONZALEZ: And I believe that it was great to say we're living together as a husband and wife, and I think that, but [inaudible] so right there you're different. And you're going to be different in front of your son's eyes.
JEFFREY BUSCH: This Legislative Body has the opportunity to make it so that we aren't, that we wouldn't have to provide that explanation over and over again, at the border to the country, explaining that we're almost like a family.
STEPHEN DAVIS: Everybody's different too. I mean, we're Jewish. We're different in all kinds of ways that we have to explain.
But there are more and more same-sex families. I think that's important. They exist, they have children, they need protections, and they need leadership from you.
JEFFREY BUSCH: Here we are.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any other questions? Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for your testimony.
Just to touch briefly on the issue of your insurance and if it's taxable or not, and I should probably know this, but assume that a civil union law was passed in Connecticut, would that cover your situation or is there a difference in how it would be taken care of?
JEFFREY BUSCH: No. Currently the law governing insurance says that married people are not taxed on insurance. A civil union would provide none of that, would not provide that protection. It would not change that situation.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: And you mentioned that the insurance comes from Columbia University. If we passed a law here regarding marriage, would that affect your relationship and your coverage and your tax situation in New York City? Would there be a difference because you live here? Explain to me how that would work.
JEFFREY BUSCH: As far as I understand, New York does not have a defense of marriage act. It doesn't have a law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
And currently, Columbia doesn't ask people where they got their marriage license. Was it people, people submit, people submit a marriage license and that's what Columbia relies on.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Okay. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any other questions? Thank you for your testimony. Next is Nancy Stratford, followed by John Owens, Gloria Meunizr, and Brian Rice. Good afternoon.
NANCY STRATFORD: Hi. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. My name is Nancy Stratford.
Marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the creation of a family unit. Children are entitled to birth within a family and to be reared by a father and a mother. I'm sorry.
SEN. MCDONALD: That's all right. Thank you.
NANCY STRATFORD: Thank you. I am the mother of six and the grandmother of four. My children are now grown, and my husband and I have enjoyed raising them to become responsible adults and, in the case of two of them, parents.
I can see that their lives have been enriched both by their father and their mother. We each represent a gender with different strengths and lessons to teach.
It is truly necessary that we, is it truly necessary that we state that a man and a woman are physically and emotionally different? These two influences are necessary for each child.
Most single parents are in search of a replacement for the role model lost. We each fill a spot in the lives of our children that needs to be filled by a father or a mother.
The thought that we would purposely pass a law that would deprive a child of either a father or a mother is unnatural and devastating. It would in time completely change our world as we know it.
I believe Anne, what was her name, Anne Stanton?
SEN. MCDONALD: Stanback.
NANCY STRATFORD: Stanback. From her testimony I feel confident that my opinion would be in the S.B. 963 where it states, where Mr. Cafero was referring to the, that it would not be construed to mean the State of Connecticut condones homosexuality, bisexuality or equivalent lifestyle to authorize the promotion of homosexuality or bisexuality in educational institutions or require that teaching in educational institutions of homosexuality or bisexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.
Three, to authorize or permit the use of numerical goals or quotas or other types of affirmative action programs with respect to homosexuality or bisexuality in administration or enforcement of the provisions of the sections, I'm sorry, I'm not political.
But I had the definite impression that those are actually the statements of what we will be asked to give next. And therefore I do believe this would change our world as we know it.
Children need a father. They need a mother. You know it. I know it. We call upon or I call upon responsible citizens and officers of government in Connecticut to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family with a father and a mother as the fundamental unit of society.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for your testimony. I do have one question.
I respect where you're coming from, and as I stated before, two years ago I voted against a bill that was in essence same-sex marriage in the Judiciary Committee. But I'm trying to understand what this bill would do to what you're referring to.
You had stated that, I guess what I'm trying to get to, whether we pass this bill or not, what would change in the relationships between the two gentlemen that were here before and their son?
What would be different in those relationships? How would that affect them if the bill didn't pass? I'm trying--
NANCY STRATFORD: You're talking about what would happen right now in this generation. I am not.
I am talking about what will happen in generations to come when our society is completely different and we are a neuter society, where it's irrelevant if you're a man or a woman and where children have no basis to connect themselves to the gender that they were born.
And I believe that would definitely change our world as we know it.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Do you think that we should revisit our current statutes that deal with adoption or deal with in-vitro fertilization, other aspects that allow same-sex couples to be parents?
NANCY STRATFORD: I would have not passed those bills. Now one part that I left out of the talk that I wrote is that I do have a very beloved relative who has chosen an alternative lifestyle.
I loved her dearly when she was in that relationship. I didn't love her any more or any less when she was out of that relationship. It had nothing to do with that. I love her as a person.
And I do not refer to individuals, to their desires, to their goodness. I refer to a society that was built by families that came from another country to work together as families and procreate as families to establish a nation of freedom.
And while it is in the best intention for two people of the same sex to want to be good and kind to a child, I think that's wonderful.
But I also believe that it is for the good of the child that that child be raised by a man and a woman.
We are different, and we teach different things, and those are things that are necessary for boys and girls to understand about themselves.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: And I just have one more question. I'm not going to keep asking this all day because I don't want to prolong the public hearing by hearing myself speak. But I will ask you this one last question.
The question I asked to Mr. Brown earlier on, whether we pass, we were debating the idea of same-sex marriage. The question of civil union has come up.
And we talked about some prior legislation that has passed dealing with certain rights, hospitalization, nursing home issues, workplace issues, that were passed for any two people who under the law were unable to be married, whether it be sisters, family members who were not already married to someone else, same-sex partners, giving them certain rights.
If a bill were to be passed in Connecticut dealing with civil union of sorts but not limited to same-sex partners, looking at giving those same rights to, I referred to relatives of mine that live together, have for years.
They're in their 60's and 70's, giving them the same rights. So they have certain insurance issues, taking care of hospitalization, other issues that might not be covered in the law unless they were to sign legal documents.
Would you oppose that as well is it were not limited to same-sex couples?
NANCY STRATFORD: I have personally nothing against people being able to care for each other in hospital situations and things like that.
What I oppose is the inference that a union between two people of the same sex would be called a marriage or try in any way to represent a family.
It's my understanding that when a couple is married that intimate relations need to take place to consummate the marriage.
Intimate relations or sex or however, sorry, I'm not an outspoken person about these things, as our country understands it now is between a man and a woman. And that is how you consummate a marriage. And if you don't do that, you can annul the marriage.
So it just, we are stepping out of our bounds. We, in my opinion, are making an effort and it's been made very clear today that this effort will not stop.
That we are making an effort to change the State of Connecticut as the way that it is, but to make it an open society where anyone can choose to do as they please, whether it is within the bounds of a normal family relation or not.
And I agree with the gentleman before that said how can it stop here.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: So say we just called this a contract, a contract that allowed any two people that are unable to be married under our current law, like I said, two sisters, an aunt and a niece, a father and a son, any two people who cannot be married under current law, we have a contract that gives them all the same rights of marriage but we don't call it a marriage and it isn't limited to same-sex partners. Would you oppose that?
NANCY STRATFORD: I don't know how you can do that. I mean, I think you're being very ethereal because what you're saying isn't possible.
I mean, if you're talking about people being able to help each other in a hospital situation, my understanding was that was already taken care of. And I think that's important.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Tax rights, insurance rights, if one family member has insurance but it's not a direct bloodline, it's not a father and son, you know, under 21 years of age, so they wouldn't be covered under their current state insurance benefits if a corporation covered them for married couples.
You know, tax laws, any other laws that apply to marriage, but you're not limited to same-sex partners, just like a bill that we passed five years ago, four years ago, dealing with a handful of rights. Are you opposed to that in theory if it were possible?
NANCY STRATFORD: I believe that that theory weakens marriage and therefore weakens our society.
If you remove all benefit of marriage from our society, then those who are teetering on whether to just be immoral or perhaps make a commitment will more than likely make the easier, in their mind, choice. And I believe that that will weaken as a society.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: So, I won't prolong this.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: But having two aunts who are single living together, 70 years old, 69 years old, to give them certain benefits, because they've never been married, to give them the benefits of tax rights, insurance benefits, that would be immoral.
NANCY STRATFORD: That's not what I'm talking about. If you do that in such a way that it is obviously for those people--
SEN. CAPPIELLO: So just those people.
NANCY STRATFORD: Well, all I'm saying is whatever you're doing, if you are doing, making any kind of a law that will weaken marriage and make it so that people do not benefit somehow from marriage, then you are weakening marriage.
And I believe that that weakens our society. I am not saying that if you can find a way to pass a law to help people like your aunt that need assistance that that is wrong.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: And by the way, to be clear, they might be watching TV and wondering why I'm bringing them into this. They have not asked for this. I'm just trying to--
NANCY STRATFORD: And I understand what you're saying. And I am not an unkind person. I love my neighbors and I try to do what's right. And I am not trying to say that we should be cruel to anyone.
We all make choices. And as a country, we have made a choice to say that a man and a woman are at the head of a family, because they are the only ones that can create a family. And that is the basis that our country has been growing on for as long as we've been here.
I for one am not willing to have that changed. I believe it is the very basis of the moral fiber of our society and that it would change that if we change those laws. That does not mean that I don't care for those people. I'm talking about that issue.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you very much. And believe me, I wasn't trying to belittle [inaudible] I'm just trying to understand from everyone that's testifying today where they're coming from and what is okay and what isn't okay. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for that question. Representative Walker.
REP. WALKER: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming to testify.
When you were discussing the make-up of the family, you said that a family is defined by a man and a woman and that's what makes a good solid family. Is that correct?
NANCY STRATFORD: I said that a man and a woman can make a family. And that is why I think it is the main basis for calling that a marriage.
REP. WALKER: In that regard, so you're saying that gender is what defines the solid unit of a family. It's not personality.
It's not the fact that you and your husband both have different personalities and that is what you have used to help raise your children, but you're saying it was gender-driven that--
NANCY STRATFORD: I'm saying that the fact that we are different is an important part of raising our children.
But my first statement is saying that we would not have been able to have children had he not been a man and I been a woman.
REP. WALKER: Well, that's interesting because one of the things that the couple that was right before you, they have a son and they provide that son with love and affection just like I'm sure you and your husband do with your children.
The fact that they were not able to procreate does not mean that they could not provide that son with a loving environment.
So I think maybe the definition of family, even though you're seeing it as male-female, it's the fact that you have two committed people to a unit to make sure that you raise the child and the child gets the love and the foundation that's necessary.
Because there are a lot of single families out there that have to provide that too, and that doesn't mean that they're not a family, correct?
NANCY STRATFORD: I understand that that's how you feel. And I understand that these two men are very kind and good men. And I admire them for their desire to take care of a child.
But I am saying that neither of the two of them are able to be a mother. And a child needs a father and a mother.
It is good for people to be good. It is good for people to be kind. And there are many single parents struggling, needing help raising their children alone.
And most of them are seeking role models of the opposite sex to help them so that they can raise their children.
REP. WALKER: So the young man Elijah who they adopted should not be in their family? He should be waiting for just a male and a female to adopt him?
NANCY STRATFORD: I personally would have not passed a law that would have allowed same-sex couples to adopt. That is my opinion. And I can't really say it any other way.
REP. WALKER: Thank you.
NANCY STRATFORD: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any other questions? Thank you for your testimony.
NANCY STRATFORD: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: John Owens, followed by Gloria Meunizr, and Brian Rice. Good afternoon.
JOHN OWENS: Good afternoon. My name is John Owens. I'd like to first express my thanks to this Committee for your openness and your patience.
I'm the proud father of three outstanding children. One is a business executive. One is a physician. One is a university professor. One of them happens to also be gay.
I do not believe that being gay is a choice. I do not believe, I firmly believe rather that our current laws on civil marriage constitute an inexcusable discrimination.
I'd like to also challenge an earlier reference to social science by Mr. Brown, I believe. I think the research he cited was based on the traditional organic family versus the single parent or no parent family model of parenting.
Too few studies have been done on the subject of same-sex parenting. The few that have been done indicate very strongly the same or even better parenting results. So let's be careful how we use such data.
Our great state, I believe, should continue its long history as a champion of freedom and equality by passing a marriage equality act.
I, for one, fail to see what traditional marriage needs to be protected from. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. Are there any questions? Thank you very much. Next is Gloria Meunizr, Brian Rice, and Carl Erickson. Good afternoon, and I apologize if I mispronounced your name.
GLORIA MEUNIER: Oh, it's okay. My husband says I still don't pronounce it correctly. It's spelled M as in Mary, E as in echo, U, N as in Nancy, I-E-R, Meunier. Supposedly in French it means Miller, Meunier. Gloria E. Meunier.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, it came with a Z on my list. So I'm not certain how that happened.
GLORIA MEUNIER: Oh, no [inaudible] okay, cool. Yes, it's an honor to be here. Thank you for this opportunity.
I live in Milford. I've been there about 30 years. I'm going to be 39, God permitting, this year. I do have four lovely children. The oldest, the first two were conceived out of wedlock.
So at my wedding ceremony May 20th 16 years ago, I did give this one sermon to the wedding guests at the reception there, or at the ceremony about how I was convicted in my heart about not having any more sexual relations until I was legally married, because I am a creationist.
I'm not an atheist. So therefore I do believe in morals of the Bible, the accuracy of Genesis through Revelation, the 66 books.
Being a creationist, I just, I guess I have a question, Senator McDonald. What do you feel is the foundation of the laws in Connecticut or the United States in general, what do you think is the ultimate reason that we even say this is right, this is wrong? Is it just, you know, may I ask?
SEN. MCDONALD: You can ask. The wonderful thing about public hearings is that this is our opportunity to hear comments from members of the public. So please continue with your testimony.
GLORIA MEUNIER: [inaudible] in my opinion, my humble opinion, thank you for your honest response, is that basically a moral or a law, when you come to look at it, you do need to think, okay, where did I get this idea from.
And if you innately say that morals are ridiculous, nobody has the right to judge, then you're saying that you believe in anarchy only because you're saying you can't [inaudible] anything right or wrong, everything is ambiguous.
So what I'm trying to say is being a creationist I believe that our laws, only because the little things like we trust in God, you know, and God by our creator, having the Ten Commandments.
If you go to Washington, D.C., there's like a plethora of scriptures, from what I understand. Even, you know, this is the year of our Lord, 2005, Jesus Christ, you know, in the year of our Lord, that we do have a foundation of Biblically based law, Judeo Christian values.
And I'm not, I don't want to say I believe in religion because I believe in Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate women's libber.
When the woman was caught in adultery she was supposed to be stoned to death in that era in the Middle East or have her head chopped off, perhaps something delightful like that.
But Jesus said, you know, he who has cast the first stone, he who can't say that he never did anything wrong. And so he rescued her and put her to the level equal with men. And so I love that about Jesus. He is the ultimate women's libber.
But Jesus also said he didn't come to break the law but to fulfill the law. And that includes the Ten Commandments.
My children, I love them dearly, and I hope to God that, you know, that they follow in my footsteps as much as I follow Jesus. When I don't follow Jesus then, please, don't follow me.
And like I said, he was the ultimate women's libber. He said he came to fulfill the law. He said--
SEN. MCDONALD: If you have a brief concluding statement, we'd appreciate it.
GLORIA MEUNIER: Basically to love your neighbor as you love yourself. And when I say that I'm against S.B. 963, it's not because I don't love that person any less.
It's because I believe in the Ten Commandments, thou shall not steal, thou shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery. All these things are for your own good.
It's not because God doesn't love us. It's because he does love us and he has rules for us for our own good.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? Thank you for your testimony.
GLORIA MEUNIER: Thank you. God bless you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Brian Rice, followed by Carl Erickson, and Sandy Sergio. Good afternoon. And as a constituent of mine from Stamford, I welcome you here to the Legislative Office Building.
BRIAN RICE: Thank you, Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Could you please move closer? Thank you.
BRIAN RICE: Sorry about that. Good afternoon, Committee Co-Chairs, Senator Andrew J. McDonald and Representative Michael P. Lawlor, and honorable Committee Members.
My name is Brian Rice. I'm a resident of Stamford. And I support H.B. 6601, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.
My spouse, Jason Kelliher, and I were legally married in Massachusetts on June 26, 2004. We moved to Stamford on August 6, 2004.
Jason and I chose to marry before moving to Connecticut first and foremost because we love one another.
We realize that legal marriage is an important mechanism by which the state recognizes the love that two people share for one another. We wanted to ensure that our love for each other was recognized and solemnized by the state.
We knew that if we did not marry before moving from Massachusetts that it could be years before we had the opportunity to legally marry.
In choosing to marry before moving to Connecticut, we also considered the stability, security, and certainty that marriage provides to relationships.
A foundational concept of marriage is that it is an enduring commitment between two people who wish to journey through life together. Our marriage was in part motivated by this aspect of the institution of marriage.
In moving to Connecticut, our relationship entered a new phase. Being a married couple has provided us with a great deal of strength as we have faced the challenges that this phase of our lives has brought upon us.
One of the biggest challenges that we have faced, interestingly enough, is the uncertainty of the recognition of our marriage.
My understanding is that both New York and Rhode Island recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in Massachusetts.
Connecticut has provided little guidance as to the legal status of same-sex marriages legally performed in other states or countries.
When asked if I am married, I'm never quite sure as to how I should respond. While I wish to answer with a simple and direct yes, I cannot provide such clarity in my response because of the uncertainty of the legal status of our marriage.
Instead I must condition my response and say, yes, in Massachusetts.
On a daily basis, the legal status of our marriage most significantly impacts our tax status. I find looking at my pay stub every two weeks to be very frustrating.
Because our marriage is a same-sex marriage, I am taxed not only on my salary, but also on the value of any benefits Jason receives from my employment such as health insurance.
I feel very fortunate that my employer, Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, provides substantial domestic partner benefits. But Jason and I are legally married.
We should not have to receive benefits as domestic partners and we should not be taxed on benefits that other married couples are not taxed on.
The financial impact that Jason and I have and will suffer as a result of Connecticut's failure to recognize our marriage for tax purposes is substantial.
The uncertainty of the recognition of our marriage in Connecticut has also impacted medical decisions which we have had to make since moving to Stamford.
My primary care physician discovered the presence of a tumor in my body during a physical exam in December.
In determining where to receive medical treatment of the tumor, one important consideration was finding a physician and hospital that would recognize and respect our marriage.
We wanted to ensure that Jason would have access to any and all medical information, and that he would be treated as my spouse and not as a legal stranger.
Knowing that New York recognizes same-sex marriages was important in ultimately determining where I would be treated.
I love Jason very much, and I am proud that we were among the first same-sex couples in the United States to receive a marriage license and to become legally married.
I hope that the members of this Committee will support H.B. 6601 so there will be no confusion that the State of Connecticut recognizes marriages legally performed in other states or countries, regardless of the gender of the parties involved.
Knowing that Connecticut recognizes our marriage would provide us with the sense of security and peace of mind that marriage is intended to provide. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. And let me ask you a couple of questions, Brian. You said you moved to Connecticut in August, I believe.
BRIAN RICE: That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: And so your tax year of 2004 is going to be a particularly interesting one, I guess [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 2B to Tape 3A.]
BRIAN RICE: --as married in Massachusetts and that should cover for the entire year in Massachusetts.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay. And you also have to file a tax return in Connecticut.
BRIAN RICE: That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: And what is the status that you'll file with in Connecticut?
BRIAN RICE: Well, I've contacted the Department of Revenue Services and they've informed me that Connecticut does not recognize same-sex marriage. And it was a very blanket statement from, you know, from one of the employees.
And so my understanding from speaking with them is that we have to file as single in Connecticut, partly because Connecticut has basically imported the Defense of Marriage Act for tax purposes, by basically defining your status in Connecticut as the same status that you have under federal law.
So we're married in Massachusetts and we're single in Connecticut for tax purposes.
SEN. MCDONALD: I mean, it raises the question obviously, because the Department of Revenue Services has put you in a position of asking you to, or telling you, I guess, by the way, have they put that in writing to you?
BRIAN RICE: Not yet, no.
SEN. MCDONALD: Have you requested that?
BRIAN RICE: I have, and I've been consulting with some of the tax attorneys in my law firm as well as with attorneys through GLAAD before finalizing a letter just to make sure we have the proper language before sending that to them.
SEN. MCDONALD: Because it seems to me that if that is true that DRS is essentially telling you to knowingly sign a tax return that you believe to be untruthful. Is that correct?
BRIAN RICE: That's correct. They're expecting me to say that I'm single when in fact I have a valid marriage license.
SEN. MCDONALD: If you get a letter from DRS instructing you to file as a single individual, I would appreciate it if you would provide a copy to the Committee.
Are there any other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for your testimony.
BRIAN RICE: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Carl Erickson, followed by Sandy Sergio and Vincent McCarthy.
CARL ERICKSON: Good afternoon. I want to thank the Members of the Judiciary Committee for hearing me today.
My name is Carl Erickson. I'm a citizen of the United States and a resident of Rockfall, Connecticut. I'm here to represent myself, my wife, Brenda, of 15 years, and our three children.
I've come to voice my opposition to Raised S.B. 963. It is a well-understood fact that married individuals have been granted certain rights and privileges because the institution of marriage has long been recognized as beneficial to society.
There are many reasons for this, such as the care for one another within the sacred bond of lifelong commitment, the stability of a lifelong relationship for the raising of children, and, specifically, the modeling of relationships for children within the home.
The importance of properly modeling relationships for our children cannot be overstated, for children need both a mom and a dad. A mom and a mom or a dad and a dad do not equal a mom and a dad.
This debate is not about equality. This is not about granting rights to those deprived of them. This is not about granting individuals equal access to benefits or health insurance.
This debate is about the future. In the balance is the destruction and reconstruction of the family. It is an attempt on the part of homosexuals to redefine and recreate the image of family in their own image.
With deep love and respect for each person, regardless of life choices, I believe that a homosexual relationship is, by definition, an exercise in selfishness.
Two people replete with social confusion and codependent tendencies join together to gain acceptance and to exercise their sexual instincts. Do we need laws to sanction and protect this behavior?
Should we not rather encourage and provide counseling to help those caught in this lifestyle to escape, as others have done?
Further, the economic consequences of this proposed bill have not been considered. Divorce, already on the rise, will increase.
Given recognition, homosexual behavior will certainly increase, with more and more individuals enticed to pursue acceptance in what I believe is a valueless community.
Why is this a problem? Because the homosexual population is plagued with diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
I'm not quite done. I'm just pausing to gain everyone's attention.
Monogamy is almost unheard of in the gay community. Statistics will support this. Will same-sex marriage change that fact?
There is no equating a gay relationship to heterosexual marriage. It is a sham, plain and simple.
My wife and I believe that a marriage between one man and one woman is sacred and the only model which is proven to be beneficial to society at large. That model has not changed. It has endured for thousands of years for very good reason.
We need laws to strengthen that model, such as a defense of marriage amendment, rather than attempting to redefine it for the benefit of a few individuals whose goals, though well-intended, do not benefit society's interests at large.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions from members of the Committee? If not, I just wanted to ask, Mr. Erickson, do you have any friends or family members who are homosexual?
CARL ERICKSON: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, I have two friends, both men, who this year, after being married for 20 or more years, have abandoned their wives and children and decided to become homosexual.
They've also abandoned their churches and my friendship.
SEN. MCDONALD: So is the answer to the question that, no, you have no friends who are homosexual?
CARL ERICKSON: None that would tolerate my intimate presence, yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Representative Lawlor.
CARL ERICKSON: I have copies. I'm not sure what to do with them.
REP. LAWLOR: Give it to the staff of the Committee. Hang on one second. I have a question for you, just following up on that last thing you shared about your two former friends.
Just out of curiosity, I guess you said they were both married before, I assume to women, right?
CARL ERICKSON: Yes, that's correct.
REP. LAWLOR: And they had children, I take it.
CARL ERICKSON: Yes, they both have children.
REP. LAWLOR: So you think when all is said and done it's better that 20, 30 years ago, whenever it was that they got married, that there was a society which sort of encouraged them to move in the direction of a heterosexual relationship when they probably knew they were gay to start with.
Don't you think it might be better if you're gay you kind of get into a gay relationship and if you're straight you get into a straight relationship?
Don't you think that would be better, especially maybe if you ask their former wives they might agree with that?
CARL ERICKSON: They definitely would not agree with that. They are friends of ours still.
REP. LAWLOR: So they like the idea that for 20 years they were married to gay guys?
CARL ERICKSON: They're not gay. They were not gay 20 years ago. I believe homosexuality is a choice.
And I may add, what precipitated this event of leaving and abandoning their families was infidelity, hours upon days of time spent alone in chat rooms ignoring their family.
These are not the choices of upright individuals that we want to model and encourage our children to follow after. Their children are now struggling with the consequences of their choices.
REP. LAWLOR: Let me ask you a different question then. It seems to me that one of the major concerns you have about homosexuality is promiscuity. Is it fair to say that?
CARL ERICKSON: It is indicative, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: And so if promiscuity is the problem, don't you think monogamy would be the solution to that?
CARL ERICKSON: There is no monogamy in homosexuality except in very rare instances, I believe--
REP. LAWLOR: Wouldn't it serve, whatever opinion people hold on that particular question, wouldn't it be a smart idea if we had a public policy that encouraged monogamy for gays and lesbians as much as it does for heterosexuals? Wouldn't that be a good idea?
CARL ERICKSON: No. I don't think it would be a good idea.
REP. LAWLOR: Why not?
CARL ERICKSON: I think it's an impossible, what you're asking is, I think, a virtual impossibility.
REP. LAWLOR: Because?
CARL ERICKSON: In talking to the wife of my friend, from her point of view, again, this is one of the gentlemen that has left the marriage and pursued a homosexual relationship.
The relationship is all about sex. All about sex. And he has been in several relationships since that time. That's only a year ago. That's not what we call monogamy. That's not what we call faithfulness, right?
REP. LAWLOR: Isn't it worth a test drive to see if you might want to promote monogamy among gays and lesbians to see if it works?
CARL ERICKSON: A test drive. That is a huge social experiment and who will bear the costs for that. It will be this generation's children and the generations to follow after them.
I don't think that we are qualified to make that decision.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Actually, let me ask one other question. I actually do have many friends who are homosexual and one of them was married.
And he was desperately unhappy in that marriage as a result of what he knew to be, what he knew to be something that was inherent in his birth that he was gay.
Had made a decision at some point in time to become married and had given, was the father to two children, and didn't want to leave his wife because of the pain that it would cause her because he in fact did love her and loved his children.
And he chose to attempt suicide three times because he couldn't resolve in his mind who he was as an individual and the love he had for his wife and children.
How should that individual have resolved his conflict in his life?
CARL ERICKSON: Well, first of all, I want to express compassion for this individual. I think that there is a tremendous amount of confusion reigning in our society.
And this proposed bill would only increase that confusion, not diminish it or resolve it.
To answer your question directly, I hope that this person would have sought people that know God in an intimate way and can explain in finite and understandable terms what it means to know a god that created them with purpose and dignity.
And whatever their issues that they felt were confusing them, that they felt were unresolvable, are in fact resolvable. Each person is different.
And, yes, some men tend to be feminine. And some women tend to be masculine. That does not change our God-given identity.
I think that, I wish that there was people that he could have spoken with that were trustworthy, that could help guide him to recognize who he is rather than to mislead him.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Any other questions? Thank you for your testimony. Sandy Sergio, followed by Vincent McCarthy and Barb Lenne Ritterman.
SANDY SERGIO: We are David and Sandy Sergio and we are here as parents. These chairs don't work.
We are parents of four adult children. One of them, Lauren, has been denied her birthright as an American because she was born homosexual. Her God-given characteristic of homosexuality denies her her birthright certainly in the State of Connecticut.
While her sisters and brother are allowed to marry in the State of Connecticut, Lauren cannot.
Those who would deny Lauren the right to marry refer to homosexuality as a lifestyle. They base their denial of liberty and justice for all on their definition of homosexuality as immoral.
Well, I'm a mother, and I'm here to tell you that homosexuality is not a lifestyle. It is a life.
It is a life that is in endangered in a society that will not legally afford it full dignity, that relegates it to second-class citizenship, and that sets it up to be derided and harmed.
How dare they do this to my child? How dare anyone say that my beautiful and brilliant daughter is immoral?
Now Lauren calls Connecticut home, but she also holds dual Canadian citizenship. And in 2003, she was married to her beloved Meg in an elegant, traditional, I might say, ceremony in Toronto.
She married to help build the community, to establishing a family, and to have for herself and her spouse a committed, loving life companionship.
In August of this year, Lauren gave birth to my granddaughter, Lindsay Katherine. In Canada, Lindsay's parents have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.
However, if they should return home to live in Connecticut, they, and thus Lindsay, would suffer a hurtful lack of legal protections and social respect.
Would you really deny social and legal legitimacy to my grandchild because of strident voices who refuse to be smarter today than they were yesterday?
Who refuse to acknowledge that homosexuality is the natural-born normal state for 10% of the population at least? Who think bad Biblical scholarship should dictate civil law? Who have forgotten all of the lessons of this country's monumental Civil Rights struggle?
I have to believe you are better than this. I have gifted each of you in your packets with Lindsay Kate's picture.
SEN. MCDONALD: Excuse me. Please refrain from clapping. Thank you.
SANDY SERGIO: I ask you, I ask you each to please display it in your office.
And when you are lobbied to deny some families the right that others enjoy, I ask you to look into Lindsay's wide baby eyes and explain to her why her family would be here in the Constitution State considered lesser human beings, why she is not good enough for the protections of family recognition that embrace other children.
I don't think you'll be able to. I hope you don't want to.
I ask you, I beg you, please, in the name of justice, please seize this opportunity for leadership. Some of you have voiced disappointment that you're no longer considered heroes.
Oh, you are. You are superheroes because you are all we've got. I beg you to be courageous. History will bless you. Lindsay will be able to come home and live near Grandma. I thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you for your testimony. And let me just say that these proceedings are being recorded and I hope that you will get yourself a tape of your testimony and send it to your daughter. She should be very proud of her parents.
Are there any questions from members of the Committee? Thank you very much for your testimony. Vincent McCarthy, followed by Barb Lenne Ritterman, and then Elijah Michaelson.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: My name is Vincent McCarthy and I am the Northeast Regional Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, and the former director of the Center of Marriage Law and Marriage Law Project.
I have been involved in many cases involving civil unions, same-sex partners, and domestic partnerships, and same-sex marriage.
I brought a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Goodridge decision and I am involved in cases now in Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, and Connecticut seeking to uphold the federal DOMA and state DOMAs and stop efforts to pass bills establishing same-sex marriage in other states.
I'm speaking today in opposition to S.B. 963, which creates marriage for any two persons regardless of the sex of the persons.
The Federal Marriage Amendment is a bill that was recently rejected by Congress and apparently is going to be submitted again very soon.
And it was an attempt to limit marriage to one man and one woman, and to work with the DOMA, the federal DOMA already in existence.
And it stated that marriage in the United States shall consist only of a union of a man and a woman.
Neither this constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
I cannot think of any reason to deny to the people their power to preserve marriage as proposed by the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is not a situation in which a discreet and powerless group seeks to win freedom from an oppressive majority.
This Amendment does not change the well-established historic and established traditions and understanding of marriage, but preserves the unique status of marriage as it has been received and understood in Connecticut since its founding.
It closes loopholes in existing law and expresses in Connecticut text the unique value of marriage in the legal system.
As a legal institution in the state, marriage dates back to the earliest known legal code, that of Hammurabi, 1780 B.C., and contracts exclusively non-incestuous adult unions of men and women, exactly in its present form as in the United States with respect to the age of consent, consanguinity, and sex of the spouses, without change for nearly 4,000 years.
The greatest threat to our nation and to the people of the United States, including the people in Connecticut, is the growing threat to the integrity of families.
The consequences of the disintegration, redefinition, and devaluation of marriage and of marital parenting are very detrimental not only to adults who are hurt in demonstrable ways, but by the dysfunction, destabilization, and devaluation of marriage and parenting, especially to children who are deeply disadvantaged.
Marriage is the foundation, the core of the family, and, as such, marriages are appreciated, valued, strengthened, and successful or devalued, desolved, and destabilized depending upon the environment the children are raised in, whether it's healthy, functionally effective, and supportive or the opposite.
As go the marriages and the families of Connecticut and America, so go the state and the nation. Yet in many ways we seem to have forgotten this and there is a need to reestablish these principles.
I'll try to keep this as short as I can.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, if you could summarize that--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I will just summarize the balance then in about a minute.
Social science confirms that children suffer when biological families do not persevere across generations. In other words, when a child is brought up in a female-female coupling, that child does not have a father. That's a fatherless family.
Similarly, if a child is brought up in a father-father coupling, that child is brought up in a motherless family.
And the studies are voluminous on the effects that that has on children growing up without a dad or without a mom.
As I said, I'll try to just finish this up. For children, the salient future of a female union is its fatherlessness. Fatherlessness presents a host of difficulties.
Children fare best when raised by their own father and mother. The fact that fatherlessness is such a salient feature of the female coupling is for the simple reason that research has overwhelmingly demonstrated that any and every departure from the standard often unattainable ideal of a biological father and mother married for an entire lifetime raising their own children is associated with quantifiable deficits in children at every stage of the life cycle, persisting not only into the adulthood of the child, but even to the next generation.
And finally, just as one example, 63% of all youth suicide, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 86% of all children with behavioral problems, 71% of all high school dropouts, 85% of all youth in prison, and well over 50% of all teen mothers come from fatherless homes.
Not all these problems can be caused by fatherlessness alone, but it would be foolish to set out deliberately to design a social structure that deliberately institutionalizes it. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Attorney McCarthy. A couple of questions. I know you're a respected attorney involved in this litigation, as you pointed out, around the country and elsewhere.
One question that comes up a lot here, and I actually think it's a pretty interesting one, is, and I understand you have strong views on the merits of the proposal.
But if you had to make a prediction 40, 50 years from now, how do you think all this ends up?
Do you think same-sex marriage is in effect a right provided by let's say a large number of countries and a large number of states, or do you think it's just never going to catch on, it's just not going to happen? What do you think?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I think that it will probably catch on in a few countries and maybe, excuse me, maybe one other state other than Massachusetts. But I don't see it going any further than that.
In fact, there's been some surprise at the lack of people coming into Massachusetts to get married as two men or two women. I don't know that there's that big a demand for it, in addition to everything else.
REP. LAWLOR: I may be wrong, you're the legal expert on what's going on around the country, but I do believe in Massachusetts they've at least argued that there's a law that in effect prohibits people from going there to get marriage licenses.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Oh, yeah. Yeah. There is a law on the books in Massachusetts.
REP. LAWLOR: That might explain it though, right? And the other question I have for you is that you mentioned the federal constitutional amendment that's been proposed.
And I guess I'm a little bit confused. I remember during the campaign President Bush was asked a question about that amendment and he sort of sent different signals about whether or not he thought the amendment itself was a good idea.
But one thing that's very interesting, of tremendous interest to me, is whether you think the proposal that's out there would in effect prohibit states like Connecticut from doing anything else, like, for example, civil union.
Is that the President's position? I think he said he was, I seem to recall he said as far as civil unions, things like that, states should be free to do whatever they think is appropriate.
And is your understanding of the current proposal and the constitutional amendment that would prohibit us and other states from doing that as well?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Yeah. The current proposal states that it would prohibit marriage or the legal incidents thereof.
REP. LAWLOR: So like on that topic, I mean, that's the catch-all that seems to allow people to argue that it would prohibit civil unions or domestic partnerships or whatever as well.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Right.
REP. LAWLOR: As you probably know, here in Connecticut state employees who have same-sex partners are entitled to collect on their benefits, as are employees in many, many private employers.
Is it your opinion that if that constitutional amendment were to pass that the State of Connecticut would be prohibited from extending that benefit to its own employees as well, since in order to get it you have to fill out a form that in effect says that you're basically a common-law marriage type of situation?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I haven't given that any thought, to be honest with you. And I think if the FMA is passed it probably would prohibit that if the phrase the legal incidents thereto was interpreted to cover any form of civil marriage, you know, which would include domestic partnerships and it would include civil unions, if it is interpreted that way.
REP. LAWLOR: But, I mean, you think that's the intent, I assume--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I think that's the intent. It's the intent as I understood from the President's speech.
REP. LAWLOR: So, in other words, if that amendment were to pass, even if a state provided ten specific protections to same-sex couples, those would in effect be invalidated by such a constitutional amendment.
I mean, assuming in order to qualify you'd have to be a same-sex couple and in a committed relationship or whatever.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: You see, there are two different aspects to this. One is are the benefits being given to them individually, or because they have a same-sex marriage type relationship.
If the statute says it's because they have the relationships, then it's probably going to be illegal.
But if the statute says, for example, that two persons can enter into a contract in which one can give the other all the rights of visiting him or her in the hospital that a family member would have, you know, I don't see that as necessarily a legal incident of marriage.
There are lots of, I can think of many, many things that could be handled contractually that would not require a legal incident of marriage and wouldn't be viewed as a legal incident of marriage at all.
REP. LAWLOR: But you can't confer a government benefit by contract. Like our state employees, we provide this benefit to state employees who are gay or lesbian and they're in relationships.
They have to fill out a form that says I am in a, you know, committed relationship, I share household expenses with this other person, and that person can get the benefits if they die--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Right, because that's clear that the benefits are being given because of the nature of their relationship.
REP. LAWLOR: So the constitutional amendment you support would in effect prohibit that nationwide even if a state wanted to do that. That's what you're saying?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Well, but if the state was, you know, clever the way that they would do it is they would give the benefit in a way that doesn't necessarily confer the status of civil union or domestic partnerships.
It would state, for example, I think as Alaska does and some other states, that the benefit can be provided from one person to another if there's need.
In other words, it's an economic relationship that's created rather than civil union or domestic partnership. It's like palimony or something.
It's economic and it's not based upon a same-sex marriage relationship or legal incident thereof.
REP. LAWLOR: I ask this because I think a lot of people here, not so much, I mean, I support same-sex marriage, but I'm looking for suggestions of alternatives--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: There are alternatives that would provide a lot of benefits to individuals who are same sex and currently living together right now.
REP. LAWLOR: So we could create something, pick a name for it, just say if you live together, regardless of what the nature of your relationship is, you can be protected under the state's laws--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: There are ways that that could be worked out. That would include family members and the like, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: I don't know if you heard Mr. Brown's testimony before, but he seemed like he was kind of opposed to that type of thing, the sort of blanket status of a unique relationship between two people--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: But I also remember the reason he said he opposed it. He opposed it because he very carefully said that if the benefit was given because of the nature of the relationship, that would also violate, you know, a law that prohibited same-sex marriage or the legal incidents thereof.
That's how he answered your question. But if you had asked him, well, if the benefit was given not because of the nature of the relationship, but because of an economic need or there was, I mean, there's so many things that have been brought up over the years that I've heard that same-sex couples want, that they could get without having to have a same-sex partner bill. Visitation in jail, visitation in a hospital--
REP. LAWLOR: How about that tax problem those guys were mentioning before? Have you--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I stay so far away from tax law. That is, I honestly know nothing.
REP. LAWLOR: There's nothing they can do to figure out a way around that one, I wouldn't think.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I'm sorry, but I'm honestly so ignorant of tax law that I wouldn't even venture out into that.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there other questions? Representative Farr?
REP. FARR: Just a couple of questions. Maybe you know this about Connecticut's recognition of what other states do in terms of things like common law marriages.
My understanding is that in some other states that you have what they define as a common law marriage, people living together for an extended period of time.
Certainly for purposes of inheritance, they're able to inherit property. Do you know, does Connecticut recognize that?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I don't believe that Connecticut does recognize common law marriage. I may be wrong. But I don't believe that it does.
And I think that, I could be wrong on this, but it's possible that the Rosengarten case may even be broad enough to cover that situation, but I'm not positive.
REP. FARR: Well, specifically if someone were to die in another state and their heir was someone, was an heir as a result of a common law marriage, would they be recognized, if that person were then an heir in Connecticut would that person be recognized as an heir in Connecticut?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: The answer to the question is if the common law marriage policy of this other state was in violation of Connecticut's public policy or its statutes then Connecticut would not have to recognize it.
REP. FARR: But you don't know whether there's been case law on that or not.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I do not.
REP. FARR: And as far as things like palimony, that isn't recognized in Connecticut.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: It is. There's a case before, about 10, 12 years ago that went to the Supreme Court of Connecticut on palimony.
REP. FARR: And it recognized it for what purposes?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: I haven't read the case in at least ten years, but for economic purposes.
In other words, if it was clear that the nature of the relationship between the parties was an economic one, that they both understood who was paying for what and where the money was, how the money was to be distributed within the relationship, then economic agreements, contract, can be implied by the actions of the parties.
Now there's an attorney in New Milford, Kathy O'Keefe, who took that case to the Supreme Court of Connecticut.
REP. LAWLOR: This common law marriage, it's actually interesting because I think the law, Connecticut does not recognize common law marriages, as I understand it.
However, if you are party to what would be considered a common law marriage in another state while you were in that state and then you moved to Connecticut, you can get divorced in our courts, for example. I think that's the law.
But I was just curious, are you part of an organization?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: American Center for Law and Justice.
REP. LAWLOR: And one of your principal focuses, I take it, is this marriage law, familial, law, that type of stuff.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Yes.
REP. LAWLOR: And do you have a position on other states that recognize common law marriages? Do you oppose other states recognizing common law marriages?
VINCENT MCCARTHY: We would oppose common law marriages for the same reason that we would oppose civil unions and domestic partnerships, that, you know, it's a look-alike. You know, it's a Trojan horse for same-sex marriage is what it is.
REP. LAWLOR: And has your firm or whatever been involved actively in the states that do recognize common law marriages--
VINCENT MCCARTHY: Well, let's see, we sued the City of Boston about six, seven years ago in the Connors v. Boston case arguing that the domestic partnership law enacted by the City of Boston was [inaudible].
In other words, outside the legislative authority given to the City of Boston and the ordinance was struck down. We did the same thing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And they were similar to common law marriages.
REP. LAWLOR: I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I'm just wondering if your organization is as aggressive for heterosexual non-marriage marriages as you are on homosexual non-marriage marriages.
VINCENT MCCARTHY: The answer is no. And I'll also tell you that I'm very unfamiliar with common law marriage as it exists today around the country.
I didn't think that there were many jurisdictions at all up to the time when domestic partnerships and civil unions began to be enacted.
I'm very unfamiliar with even how many jurisdictions have the right to common law marriage anymore.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Other questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is Barb Lenne Ritterman, and Ms. Ritterman will be followed by Elijah Michaelson, then Jennifer Brown, then Nettie Parker Bauman, then Robin McHaelen.
BARB LEVINE-RITTERMAN: Thank you, Chairman McDonald, Chairman Lawlor, and Members of the Committee. I am Barbara Levine-Ritterman and this is my partner, Robin Levine-Ritterman.
We live in New Haven and have been together since 1989. We have two children, Maya, age nine, and Joshua, age seven.
That Robin and I love each other and have committed to each other for life is reason enough that you, our elected leaders, should support marriage equality and treat us with the same basic dignity and respect under the law as other Connecticut citizens.
But today, our family comes before you with a more pressing need to end our exclusion from marriage.
In June, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Robin took care of me before, during, and after mastectomy surgery. She assisted me during my recovery from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
While Robin and I had shared childcare equally over the years, after my cancer diagnosis Robin cut back on her work to allow me time to recover and to return to work myself on a reduced schedule.
This crisis has heightened our awareness of our importance to one another and our vulnerability without the security and protections that can be provided exclusively by marriage.
I very much want to see my children graduate from high school. While our family is hopeful and determined, we dread the possibility of a time when our children would lose a mother and Robin would lose a life partner, friend, and wage earner.
Because Robin and I cannot marry, our family would struggle financially if I died. Among other things, Robin would not be able to claim Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse, even though I have paid into that system for over 30 years.
Also, Robin would have to pay taxes on anything I leave her, taxes that a spouse would not have to pay.
Deepening our commitment to one another has always been important to us. In 1992, we had a religious ceremony celebrating our love and commitment with over 100 members of our family and friends.
We have a ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, confirming our commitment. That commitment was heightened after we had our children and now again with my cancer diagnosis.
Robin and I want to marry because marriage means something to us and to the world around us.
Robin and I see marriage as an expression of our lifelong commitment to each other in a form that is universally recognizable to our children, our neighbors, our families, even our healthcare providers.
My cancer diagnosis has made me feel very vulnerable. Not being married adds to that vulnerability.
Five years ago this Committee had the courage to pass Second Parent Adoption Legislation that made an enormous difference in our lives and our children's lives.
Robin and I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your vision and your perseverance.
We hope you can build on that bold foundation by passing civil marriage. If you cannot do the right thing now, we are willing to wait until you can because there is no substitute for marriage. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is Elijah Michaelson. Is Elijah Michaelson here? Next is Nettie Parker Bauman. Is Ms. Bauman here? Next is Jackie Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I think Robin's here.
REP. LAWLOR: Sorry? Is Elijah Michaelson, no, I'm just skipping down on the con side. Mark Dost. Is Mark Dost here? Okay, here we go.
And just so, before you begin, Mr. Dost, go ahead. Jennifer Brown will be next, then Archbishop Rosazza, then Robin McHaelen, then Patricia Galloway. Please go ahead.
MARK DOST: Good afternoon, House Chairman Lawlor, Senator McDonald, and other Members of the Committee.
My name is Mark Dost. I'm a resident of Watertown and an attorney in private practice in Waterbury. My credentials are listed in my testimony.
This afternoon I'm speaking in opposition to S.B. 963 and H.B. 6601.
I've provided the Committee with a copy of my testimony today and several other items that I hope will assist members in their deliberations.
The first is a copy of the March 2004 issue of Connecticut Lawyer published by the Connecticut Bar Association.
The lead articled entitled “Same-Sex Marriage and Connecticut: A Debate” which I authored traces the legal history of the same-sex marriage movement and the legal history of the countermovement that has led towards defense of marriage legislation.
The second is an article for the June/July issue of Connecticut Lawyer and is one of two articles in that issue dealing with policy considerations in favor and in opposition to same-sex marriage.
My article discusses policy consideration in opposition to legal recognition of same-sex unions. Professor Brown, who will succeed me, wrote the other article.
The third is a letter from me to my representatives in the General Assembly, Senator DeLuca and Representative Williams, about a subject on which I will focus presently.
I'd first like to note what may not be obvious to every member of the Committee, that a vote in favor of H.B. 6607, which would recognize in Connecticut same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships from other states, is a vote for same-sex marriage in Connecticut.
The bill would allow Connecticut residents to cross the border into Massachusetts, marry under Massachusetts law, and then reenter Connecticut as legally married couples under Connecticut law, something they cannot now do.
If you wish to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman in this state, you should oppose this bill.
Although I'm also opposed to S.B. 963, which would directly authorize same-sex marriage, I'll focus the balance of my time on the subject of civil unions.
I think that most would agree with me that a bill authorizing same-sex marriage has little chance of being passed in this legislative session.
Yet the Love Makes a Family coalition and other proponents have said that they will accept nothing less than marriage and I take them at their word.
Nevertheless, we know that some legislators who would never vote for same-sex marriage legislation will be tempted to vote for civil unions, which they may see as a compromise.
The Kerrigan case was filed last August in the New Haven Superior Court. Like the Goodridge case in Massachusetts, it seeks to attack the democratic process and impose same-sex marriage in Connecticut as a matter of state constitutional law.
Because of Kerrigan and the threat of future constitutional litigation, the civil unions compromise in the General Assembly is not possible at this time because a vote for civil unions, domestic partnerships or even any lesser compromise upsetting the status quo in this legislative session puts Connecticut at serious risk of a court decision mandating same-sex marriage in Connecticut.
Voting for compromises without first securing an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution would put civil marriage as the union of a man and a woman at grave risk.
My letter to Senator DeLuca and Representative Williams explains the nature of the risk and discusses three models of state constitutional amendments that would protect civil marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Two of the three models would permit civil unions and other changes in the law less drastic than civil unions.
I would ask that members of this Committee study these issues so that actions the General Assembly takes will not lead to unintended results. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions?
REP. MCMAHON: Excuse me, but isn't there a law in Massachusetts prohibiting people from coming into the state for the express purpose of marriage?
MARK DOST: Yes. There is a law right now in Massachusetts that prohibits a, that treats as void [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 3A to Tape 3B.]
--H.B. 6601 would do would remove that barrier so that couples from Connecticut could then go to Massachusetts, be married, and then come back the same day and have their marriages legally recognized.
SEN. MCDONALD: Mr. Dost, your last comment I guess confused me. My understanding of, maybe I read it wrong.
My understanding of H.B. 6601 would say that any couple who was legally married in another state or another country, if it was recognized in the state or country of origin, would be recognized by the State of Connecticut.
MARK DOST: That's correct.
SEN. MCDONALD: You just posited a different scenario where Connecticut residents are going to jump over the line to Springfield, get married, and come back.
Do you read that, where in that legislation do you read that it would allow for that?
MARK DOST: It has to do with the law of Massachusetts. The law of Massachusetts allows non-residents to marry. So long as that marriage would be valid, it would not be treated as void under the law of the state in which their residents.
Because Connecticut would then recognize the Massachusetts marriage, it would not be void under Connecticut law, because Connecticut would recognize the Massachusetts marriage. That barrier, which is now in place, would be removed.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, my understanding is that we have, under Connecticut law, only four categories of marriage which are void. Are you familiar with them?
MARK DOST: You mean pertaining to incest, etc.? Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are same-sex relationships among those four enumerated categories of void marriages?
MARK DOST: No, not in general statutes. But Connecticut law clearly applies the one man, one woman standard.
And the Rosengarten decision also establishes, that's the Connecticut Appellate Court decision in 2002, clearly reads Connecticut legislative policy as being a strong public policy in favor of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
SEN. MCDONALD: But that, I mean, let's be clear. That decision dealt with situations where there were civil unions entered into in Vermont and they were sought to be dissolved in Connecticut. It had nothing to do with a marriage.
MARK DOST: The Rosengarten does make the statement, and part of the decision is based on the proposition that it's against the strong public policy of Connecticut to have marriages as a union of one man and one woman.
SEN. MCDONALD: As expressed in our statutes.
MARK DOST: As expressed in legislative--
SEN. MCDONALD: And my point is that our current statutes have four categories of void marriages, and currently same-sex relationships are not one of the four enumerated categories of void marriages. Correct?
MARK DOST: They are not in the four categories enumerated in the statutes.
SEN. MCDONALD: So let me ask you one other question. Are there any other marriages other than the marriages that we're talking about now that are performed in Massachusetts or Canada or any number of European countries, are there any other marriages that are currently undertaken in the United States which are not recognized in this state?
MARK DOST: Could you give me an example of what you have in mind?
SEN. MCDONALD: No. I'm trying to find out if there are, in your experience, if any state in the United States currently chooses not to recognize another marriage performed in another state in this country.
MARK DOST: I'm not aware of it, but I haven't devoted study to that particular issue. There was the question about common law marriage that came up awhile ago, but common law marriage is a real marriage.
And, yes, there is Connecticut case law that says that common law marriages that are legal, valid in another state, are valid in Connecticut. It was a Supreme Court case.
SEN. MCDONALD: And do you have an opinion on whether or not the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution would require one state to recognize a marriage performed in another state?
MARK DOST: I have an opinion. My opinion is that it would not because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Full Faith and Credit Clause, which is found in Article 4 of the Constitution, allows Congress quite a bit of room to tell the states to what extent full faith and credit will be given.
Congress in 1996, by a vote of nearly three-quarters in each house, voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. And that dealt squarely with the full faith and credit question.
So that unless and until the federal DOMA is overturned, I can't imagine it would be, but unless and until that happens, full faith and credit would not be given, for example, to a Massachusetts marriage for same-sex partners.
SEN. MCDONALD: How can that be? I mean, the federal DOMA is a statute passed by Congress, and yet the Full Faith and Credit Clause is a constitutional imperative which supercedes any statute passed by Congress.
MARK DOST: That's true, but the Full Faith and Credit Clause gives Congress authority in this area to prescribe what faith, how this will be implemented. It's in the Constitution. It's part of--
SEN. MCDONALD: It says Congress shall decide what the Full Faith and Credit Clause means?
MARK DOST: I did not bring Article 4 of the Constitution with me, but if you look in Article 4 you'll see the extent to which Congress is given authority.
I did bring my article from Connecticut Lawyer and that does have, now that I think of it, the--
SEN. MCDONALD: While you're looking that up, do you have an opinion on the Connecticut Constitution with respect to its recognition of contracts and laws of other states?
MARK DOST: Connecticut generally will recognize contracts and laws of other states.
SEN. MCDONALD: So--
MARK DOST: As a matter either of Full Faith and Credit or as a matter of comity.
SEN. MCDONALD: So other than your argument with respect to the federal DOMA, with which apparently you and I disagree, but regardless of whether Congress has the ability to legislate the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, the treatment under Connecticut's Constitution of a marriage performed in Massachusetts or any other country would be distinctly a matter of Connecticut constitutional law un-impacted by the federal DOMA. Isn't that correct?
MARK DOST: It may be a matter of Connecticut constitutional law. It may also be a matter of Connecticut choice of law, conflicts of law. And it's not only a constitutional question, but it's also a question of comity.
I do have the text here. Article 4 says that full faith and credit shall be given in each state for the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.
And the Congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved and the effect thereof.
So that's what Congress is hanging its authority on.
SEN. MCDONALD: Slim though it may be. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there further questions? If not, thank you.
MARK DOST: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Jennifer Brown.
IAN AYRES: My name is Ian Ayres, and I'm testifying today with my spouse, Jennifer Brown. We live in New Haven, Connecticut, and are law professors at Yale and Quinnipiac.
We've been married for nearly 12 years and it troubles us deeply that while we enjoy the benefits and protections inherent in marriage because we are a different-sex couple, our gay, lesbian and bisexual friends who love members of their own sex are denied these same benefits and protections in their family life.
JENNIFER BROWN: While some people wrongly argue that equal marriage rights would somehow weaken heterosexual marriage, we believe that legalizing same-sex marriage will actually strengthen heterosexual marriage.
Today an increasing number of heterosexual couples are asking whether it's moral to marry when their gay friends cannot.
IAN AYRES: At our own Episcopalian parish, St. Thomas in New Haven, the vestry asked the clergy to consider same-sex couples for marriage on the same basis as different-sex couples.
The push for the resolution came from heterosexual families with children, but our church canon law only allows clergy to solemnize marriages that meet the state prerequisites.
So our rector, Father Michael Ray, decided to stop discriminating and to abide by state law by stopping all marriages.
JENNIFER BROWN: We're proud that for the first time we can say that we're attending a church that no longer doctrinally discriminates against same-sex couples.
But the only way it could currently accomplish that is by eliminating the possibility of heterosexual marriage.
So you can see here that the state's discrimination against same-sex couples is weakening heterosexual marriages because it's causing churches to refuse to marry heterosexual couples.
IAN AYRES: Under current law, marriage is like a whites-only water fountain. And an increasing number of heterosexuals are refusing to drink.
Legalizing civil unions would not solve this problem. This would be another kind of separate but equal sham. Creating a blacks-only water fountain does not reduce the embarrassment of drinking from a white fountain.
JENNIFER BROWN: Finally, our support for equal marriage rights grows out of our perspective as parents. We have two young children, ages seven and ten.
We've tried to instill in them the belief that gender should not determine their aims in life, that whether male or female they are free to pursue their passions and talents.
We also tell them that gender should not determine who they love. As they choose their friends, they should care more about the content of other kids' character than the shape of their bodies.
As our children mature, we hope to continue this message, assuring them that they can grow to be the people they want and are meant to be.
And if our children find special people to love and commit to for life, our hope is that they can choose their mates without regard to sex.
IAN AYRES: Thus our support for equal marriage rights grows out of our hope that the state might one day treat our children more fairly than it now treats our friends and family members. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much Professors Brown. Are there questions? Senator McDonald, then Representative Cafero.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. And forgive me, I heard that both of you were professors. And what are you professors of?
JENNIFER BROWN: I teach law at Quinnipiac Law School. Ian teaches law at the Yale Law School.
SEN. MCDONALD: And what are your respective fields within law?
JENNIFER BROWN: I teach alternative dispute resolution, professional responsibility, civil procedure, and I have also written quite a bit on gay rights and same-sex marriage.
IAN AYRES: We're publishing a book together right now on how heterosexuals can support gay rights.
SEN. MCDONALD: Let me guess. One has one chapter and the other has the next.
JENNIFER BROWN: Sorry. We wanted to share equally. What can we say.
SEN. MCDONALD: And do either of you consider yourself capable of answering the questions I've address to Attorney Dost in terms of state and federal constitutional law?
JENNIFER BROWN: I can try some, but I'm sure there are others here who can more effectively answer them. If I can't answer something I'd be happy to follow up with additional information later.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, really my question is, putting aside the federal DOMA and federal constitutional law.
As a matter of state constitutional law, do you have an opinion about whether or not Connecticut, under its current law, would have an obligation to recognize marriage performed in the State of Massachusetts or any foreign jurisdiction where that marriage was legally performed in Connecticut?
Would somebody who was married in Massachusetts or a foreign country and it was lawfully entered into marriage there, could they come here and ask the courts of Connecticut as a matter of Connecticut conditional law to recognize that marriage?
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, I believe that they could. I think the tradition in Connecticut has been to recognize marriages that are valid where celebrated.
There is generally public policy exception that adheres in this area, and you do see historically some states refusing to recognize marriages that violate the strong public policy of the state.
But that exception is really quite narrow. You have to find very explicit statements. In fact, there are things about that it has to shock the conscience indeed for the marriage to violate strong public policy in the state.
Now Attorney Dost referred to the Rosengarten Appellate Court opinion and there has been legislation where I know folks have felt the need to kind of reiterate that there's no condoning of homosexuality, etc.
But I think at the same time we see Connecticut as a state that has recognized civil rights for gay people and has done a lot to recognize gay relationships.
And it's not just the Second Parent Adoption Statute. There are other ways in which this state has protected gay relationships, gay citizens.
So I do not believe that the strong public policy exception would be met in the State of Connecticut, and therefore the normal course would be for Connecticut to recognize that marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Representative Cafero.
REP. CAFERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Professor Brown, Brown, good afternoon.
JENNIFER BROWN: His name is Ayres actually. I don't want to force him to take my name.
REP. CAFERO: Thank you for your testimony this afternoon. How long have you felt the way you've felt about the issue you just testified on? I'm sorry.
How long have you felt the way you have felt about the issue? Is it something that you just knew forever or something that evolved, or how did you come to take the position you're testifying to?
IAN AYRES: It has evolved. It was troubling for us at the time that we both religiously and legally married.
And this is the only water fountain in town for us at the time that we chose to marry.
Back during the time when misogynation was criminal, many single-race couples still decided to marry, to their embarrassment, because marriage has great benefits that we want.
But to do so has got to be embarrassing in an age where our friends and family, my sister is a lesbian and she doesn't have the same rights as I have to marry the person that she loves.
REP. CAFERO: I'm sorry, you indicated it was troubling. In what way was it troubling?
JENNIFER BROWN: It's just a little hard to, you know, if you have friends and family members you care about and you see relationships they have that are every bit as committed. They're raising kids. They're contributing to their communities in the same way that we are.
It's a little hard to look them in the eye and say we get the benefits of this institution and you don't.
IAN AYRES: Part of the evolution too, this is now the ethicist column in the New York Times, people are writing in, is it ethical for me as a heterosexual to marry when gay people are not allowed to marry.
A particular moment is the wedding invitation, something that's really changed, I think, in the last ten years.
When you send out a celebratory invitation to your friends who are gay and lesbian, come celebrate my, this discriminatory act. You know, this is something, it's changed.
And it's still met with a variety of responses, but there are, and indeed now, hmm, and you want me to come do this in Connecticut when we might go to another place that doesn't discriminate.
This is, things are changing, and indeed, Representative Farr, another way that this is weakening heterosexual marriage, there are many employers that grant benefits to heterosexual couples that have not truly committed.
And the reason that they're doing this is because of the legal discrimination. We're trying to make the case that if you care about strengthening heterosexual marriage, end the discrimination.
JENNIFER BROWN: I'd just like to say one other thing about the evolution of my own feelings about this.
I heard a lot about the weakening or the fear that the legalization of same-sex marriage would somehow weaken heterosexual marriage.
But I guess what I want you to say is that the heterosexual marriage that I'm in is one that I try, not always succeed, but I try to have without regard to the fact that I'm a woman and he's a man.
We do it because of our love for each other, our mutual respect, our talents, our preferences, what we're good at. That's how we run this marriage, not because one of us is a woman and one is a man.
And I think that if marriage were open to same-sex couples as well as different-sex couples, it might actually be easier to have the kind of heterosexual marriage to which I aspire.
REP. CAFERO: I guess when I asked you the question and you talked about evolution, is your position, your position in support of same-sex marriage, is it one that you always had or is it something that you didn't have at one time and evolved to?
JENNIFER BROWN: I think, it's been, ever since I was a teenager I have not really understood discrimination against gay people, so that's been a long-held view.
REP. CAFERO: Including the marriage part of it?
JENNIFER BROWN: Well, actually wondering about marriage came fairly early to me too, I must say. I really thought that that was an institution where we were still recognizing a lot of de jure discrimination on the basis of both sex and sexual orientation.
IAN AYRES: Twelve years ago, I can promise you that I asked the priest is it ethical for me to marry when my sister can't.
JENNIFER BROWN: But I want to say too that I think a lot of us have been evolving in our thoughts about what's the best road to go toward the goal that we're all trying to reach.
And for a long time I think civil union has seemed to be a good way to go. But I think increasingly we're seeing that civil union will not solve the sort of problem that Ian and I are identifying about separate but equal and about the inherent sex discrimination in marriage laws.
So that's the evolution.
REP. CAFERO: I appreciate that. Thank you. Let me ask you a couple more questions. And you've been here, I presume, for most of the testimony today and heard some of the questions.
I just want to get your take. Obviously the bill states the changes that it makes, says that any two persons otherwise eligible in this [inaudible] regardless of sex would be eligible to marry.
And I'd asked the question before, and I meant it very sincerely, very seriously, what if the language were to be changed to two or more persons? Do you have an opinion on that, about the number two?
JENNIFER BROWN: I do have. Right now the law is conditioning the right to marry on gender, on the gender of the two people who seek to marry. And it is discriminating in that way on the basis of gender.
You have a chance to eliminate the gender discrimination in the marriage law and this state cares about gender discrimination.
So far I don't think we've heard a lot of discussion about caring about discrimination on the basis of the number of people in the relationship.
That would be a different basis for discrimination. Then you have to have a new conversation about the rationales for and against that kind of discrimination.
Right now we're talking about discrimination on the basis of gender.
IAN AYRES: And there's a reason why the Constitution has heightened scrutiny of gender discrimination, because gender has been a traditional way that the law has subordinated people.
Numbers have not been a traditional way that the law has subordinated people.
And it would not be, and so not only as a constitutional matter would number discrimination not be under heightened scrutiny as gender or sex discrimination is, but there's a reason why the courts, there's a reason why you should pay more attention to distinctions on the basis of, on bases which traditionally have subordinated particular groups, and genders more than numbers.
REP. CAFERO: Do you have an opinion on the numbers?
IAN AYRES: Well, I'd start with empirically I have a concern that when you increase the numbers you increase the subordination of women.
And so that indeed not only do I want to make a distinction that we should be concerned about subordinating women, but that when we increase the numbers there is a chance.
And so if we were going to increase the numbers, I'd really want to care about gender subordination.
REP. CAFERO: I guess I'm missing you there. Assuming we made a change not discriminating against sex, would the number issue be an issue in your mind?
JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. And I think what Ian is saying that, again, this is traditionally, and we're not experts in this, we're not anthropologists or sociologists.
But I think my own personal concern would be that polygamist structures have sometimes been used to subordinate women. So I would be concerned that in the interests of eliminating number-based discrimination you may have a negative effect on women.
REP. CAFERO: Even if the people, in my hypothetical world, were all the same sex, all women or all men?
JENNIFER BROWN: But, again, see, the whole fact that we're having this conversation here suggests that it's a different set of rationales, a different set of legal and social questions, and you would have to tackle those when they come.
But I am very skeptical of slippery slope arguments. The kind of conversation you're having now about gender discrimination would not bind you in that conversation because it's a different set of questions.
REP. CAFERO: No, I understand. I think the concern that many have is though that the issue to some is defining marriage, defining it not only about who can marry, when they can marry, to whom they could marry, but how many could marry.
So, though I understand, and I'm not big on the slippery slope thing either, but it is something that certainly very legitimately comes under the realm of defining what a marriage is.
And what we are debating right now is, whether you are for it or against it, I think one has to recognize a departure from the way we've always done it here in Connecticut. Obviously it's never been legal.
So the concern is, and I think relating to something Senator McDonald asked with regard to Full Faith and Credit.
Let's assume that another state has that debate that you talked about at that other time, and they say that two or more persons could, of the same sex or otherwise, could enter into a marriage and in fact people did that.
Would we, based on the Full Faith and Credit and the comity clause, etc., would we as a state have to recognize that, or would that fall into your category as you said of being against the public policy of the state?
JENNIFER BROWN: I believe that it would violate the strong public policy of the state. But, you know, time will tell and you'd have briefs on both sides.
REP. CAFERO: But I guess that's what I'm getting at. If there's a strong public policy about that number two, in your mind what is that policy? What is it? How would you articulate that policy?
IAN AYRES: Well, one of the policies is to assure that women don't get hurt.
JENNIFER BROWN: I think the, if you look at the descriptions of marriage in marriage ceremonies, in the kinds of promises that people make to each other, people can make those promise one to one, to two, to bind together two people for life.
And there is, you know, that can be preserved, clearly, whether it's two men, two women, or a man and a woman.
I, you know, you're really taking me beyond my realm now when you ask me about multiple relationships and what kinds of promises people can make to each other in that context.
REP. CAFERO: It's a tough question.
JENNIFER BROWN: It's a good question. But again, because I think the question you're faced with now is a different one, I really urge you to focus on the people who are coming before you now, the problems they are bringing to you and the help they're asking you for.
REP. CAFERO: I totally understand and respect that. I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness and sincerity of your testimony.
But I think, if nothing else, we have to recognize the difficulty of the question. It's a difficult question.
That even those who at least one aspect of it is so clear in their mind, in your case clear since your teen years, there are other aspects that relate to the definition of marriage that aren't so easy. They're tough.
And some aspects are tougher than others to other people. And that, I guess, is the challenge we have. But I appreciate your testimony.
IAN AYRES: And one thing, civil union though does not get you out of this tough question, because there's still a twoness to civil union.
And if this is going to, and it's just as much you're going to have to answer a tough question as to why the number two with regard to that.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is Bishop Rosazza.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Thank you, Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor. Before you gave me a promotion. You called me archbishop. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: It wouldn't be a bad thing.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: And I do come before you with pain because of my position in the church and the intellectual and spiritual position that I advocate and believe, and on the other hand, relationships, some of them very close, that I've had with people in the homosexual and gay community throughout many years.
I speak in opposition obviously to the bills. And to do so I draw on an article by Father Robert Sokolowski who's originally from New Briton, now an internationally recognized philosopher, currently teaching at Catholic universities, lectures at Yale, and even in Poland in the Polish language.
And he states that those who argue in favor of defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman insist that the objective or end of marriage is the procreation of children and that many laws currently given to marriage are to support families with children since society has wished to assure their own preservation through the next generation. So the law's based on the end.
Now suppose the law were to recognize homosexual marriages. Then procreation would no longer specify what a marriage is.
After all, if marriage is a personal decision of commitment and love, why should it not be open to whoever is committed to and loves anyone else.
Thus the major threat to marriage by legalizing same-sex marriages would be to redefine the institution of marriage since homosexual persons cannot between themselves procreate.
Here's it's necessary to distinguish between purposes and ends. Purposes are goals that people set for themselves when they act. Ends belong to the nature of things.
For example, the end of the science of medicine or art is to preserve or restore health. No one can change that. It might be the purpose of a medical student to make money and gain prestige. His or her purposes, however, do not change the end.
I believe that one can see the value of arguing along these lines, though it is commonly understood that we can redefine everything and liberate ourselves, even from the constraints of traditional marriage.
Yes, one can argue that we have separated sex from procreation by contraceptives and that people marry for personal fulfillment.
But let us return to the argument of the end of sex in marriage as procreation. It is true that mutual love is very important, but the end of procreation is what specifies the relationship.
In this view, the physical end of procreation is the first and essential defining character of marriage. And I say in this view people could have others. And the mutual love of the couple is then seen in that context.
Admittedly there are infertile heterosexual couples, but in the aggregate most couples are fertile and the immense majority of human being result from sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.
To sum up, those who want a change in the law believe that marriage and sexuality do not have natural ends. Rather it is only choices and purposes that matter, thus unlinking the state of marriage from reproduction.
Society does not establish legal categories for many different forms of human friendship. It does so for marriage because it has an interest in society's next generation.
Finally, pertaining to the recognition of same-sex relationships already recognized by other states but not legally recognized in Connecticut, in statute it is the current policy of the State of Connecticut that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The citizens of Connecticut should not be forced to change that policy based on the action of another state. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Bishop. I just want to ask you a question in a moment, because one aspect of your testimony intrigues me a little bit.
But, you know, something troubled me very much over the weekend. And since you're a bishop in the church here in Connecticut, the Catholic Church, I received an e-mail, apparently sent in his officially capacity from Deacon Ronald Gurr, St. John the Baptist Church in New Haven.
And he begins it by saying as a member of the Catholic clergy, so in other words he's writing in his official capacity.
I need to tell you that you are on thin ice with this stance, my support for same-sex marriage. You are meddling with an institution of God going back to ancient times, which I guess is a point of view.
But then he goes on to say, and as I said, he signed this as Deacon Ronald Gurr, St. John the Baptist Church, said I'm writing as a member of the Catholic clergy.
He goes on to say I suggest that you look back at former Governor Rowland who forfeited his stand on pro life to get elected. Don't think that the devastation to him ranging from the turbulent end to his first marriage to his troubled stepson to his jail term were just coincidences.
He owes that to his willingness to compromise from what he knew to be right.
Now as I said, the letter begins saying as a member of the Catholic clergy, it's signed in his official capacity. And I just wanted to give you an opportunity to tell me whether this was the position of the Church.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: No, it is not.
REP. LAWLOR: I assume it's not. And I would hope you would hold this person to account for writing such a thing in his official capacity.
We get all kinds of letters, people in their private capacity. This is different.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I'll speak with him, Mike.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Sir. Secondly, in the beginning of your testimony you talked about the procreation being the central focus of marriage.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes, the defining end. End, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: And I'm a big believer in the separation of church and state. In other words, what I mean when I say that is that I would not in any way as an elected official wish to question the policies of any religious organization. That's not the intent of my question.
But to help us understand this point you're making of the central focus of marriage being procreation, I just wondered, does the church, does your church, does my church, does it make a distinction in the rite of holy matrimony between persons who are and are not capable of childbirth?
In other words, I believe, and maybe I'm wrong in this, that couples in their 70's, 80's, perhaps even older can be married.
Does the church itself draw that distinction at all?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: No.
REP. LAWLOR: And so how does that--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: By extension, because most heterosexual couples are capable of procreation. And you do have that situation. Yes, you have infertile couples. You have elderly people, yes, who marry.
But by extension, because they're heterosexuals, they would fit into the whole marriage scheme.
REP. LAWLOR: Now obviously our civil law recognizes those marriages. But I'm just, and I certainly think it's a legitimate point of view, of course it is, to have procreation being the central focus.
But if there really is such a distinction, why hasn't it been drawn? I mean, why isn't marriage different if, what is the purpose of marriage? Let me ask you that.
What is the purpose of marriage if you have a couple in their 80's or 90's who love each other and want to get married? If that is treated the exact same way in a religious organization, how is this really such a big distinction?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Because, first of all, you're taking a small segment and saying that on the basis of a small segment we redefine the end.
No. The immense majority of people have as their end in marriage, the institution of marriage has at its end education and procreation of children, the institution.
So you have some people who, you know, who are exceptions to that. But it doesn't change the end of marriage.
REP. LAWLOR: I guess that's true. And it's not a question. It's just, I guess, the way I look at this whole issue. I mean, I have a lot of views on this issue.
But one of them is that we're not really changing the institution of marriage. We're doing what you were just describing. We're just saying there's this exceptional situation and we're not going to change the whole thing by allowing these folks to get married as well
I guess that's the way I view it.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes, good argument. And I think though that we can say that if you do though recognize same-sex people, there's a whole category of people who are always across the board and forever incapable of procreation.
REP. LAWLOR: But I guess you could say the same things for 80-year-olds.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Small number. Yeah, I hear you. But it doesn't change the institution.
REP. LAWLOR: And, you know, this question comes up all the time. I think if you were here earlier you heard this dilemma that all of us have to confront now on marriage versus civil union or something else or whatever.
Either in your personal capacity or on behalf, is there anything we can do to provide some legal status to same-sex couples that'll allow them to solve these problems you've heard conveyed here in such great detail?
Is there anything we can do that would be acceptable?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I can't, no, I don't want to go that route. I just can't. And I respect your position and what you're dealing with. It's very heavy. I respect that.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Sir. Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. And thank you, Bishop, for being here. I appreciate your honesty and candor. And frankly, I suspect many of us envy the ability to have such a unified view of such deeply held beliefs.
And I guess that's why you're such an esteemed leader in our state.
Let me ask you though, it occurs to me, in following up on Representative Lawlor's comments, that we actually also have an extraordinary number of children in this country who are seeking homes.
That actually I know that the Catholic Church works very hard on trying to help place those children in adopted families.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Through Catholic Charities, yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Through Catholic Charities. Is it the church's position that if there are no heterosexual homes in which to place a child that two loving and committed individuals of the same sex should be prevented from creating that same kind of family environment for a child, to provide that child with a fostering, or nurturing environment that he or she otherwise would be deprived of?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I don't know of any official position. I mean, I think it's been said in papal statements, for instance, that the child benefits from heterosexual parents, by a father and a mother.
Now I don't know. I know that that goes on throughout the country. It's a matter of fact.
SEN. MCDONALD: And I, it's a matter of fact and perhaps an article of faith. But my point is that even if that is true, in all of the situations and circumstances people find themselves in, we still have tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of children in this country and in this world I should say, perhaps more broadly, who don't have the ability to have any parent in their life.
And I say this because I personally know of same-sex couples who have welcomed into their home and into their lives children in adoptive relationships.
And I understand the church's position that the purpose of marriage is for the benefit of procreation. But for children who are already created and don't have a home, what for them?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Well, I know that that situation exists and I sort of admire people who do that, who take in children from other countries, from this country, whatever.
SEN. MCDONALD: Is it better for them to live in an orphanage, if you will, or to live in a family with two committed individuals of the same sex?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I think yes, do well in an orphanage or languish rather than in a home that would be provided for them. Yes, if I had the choice I would say definitely.
SEN. MCDONALD: It's a tough choice for you. I understand.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: No, but definitely.
SEN. MCDONALD: But we're all being asked to make tough choices here. One other question, Bishop.
It occurs to me, and I asked this of another speaker before you, that there's, underlying much of this debate is a collapsing, if you will, of deeply held and personal religious beliefs of individuals about the sanctity of a marriage in the eyes of God or in the eyes of whatever that faith is.
And there is the side of this that is civil law. And clearly you approach it from the perspective of the church and that's--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: And philosophy. I mean, a perspective.
SEN. MCDONALD: But in our state statutes, we do this weird thing where we have collapsed, if you will, the religious elements of marriage and the civil elements of marriage.
And we have actually conferred as a state, we have conferred authority upon you and members of the clergy and members of various faiths to solemnize civil marriage.
Is that a role that the church wants to have on behalf of the state?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: We have to have it. I mean, otherwise, I lived in France for four years and you have to be married at the city hall and then go over to the church.
But it's something that, it's true, in the State of Connecticut, like Massachusetts. If I go to Massachusetts I have to get each time a special permission from the Secretary of State to solemnize a marriage in Massachusetts, whereas here I can do it anywhere.
SEN. MCDONALD: But, so we don't have to have it. We actually could have a system where people choose to have their civil marriages solemnized by a justice of the peace, a judge, any number of people who are authorized.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: You have that already, yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: So my question to you was does the church want to have that responsibility to solemnize civil marriage in addition to the religious ceremonies that you perform?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes, because without it we can't perform the religious one. I mean, if a person comes, well--
SEN. MCDONALD: Is that true?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yeah. I mean, I can't, it's against our church law and there's a fine, I know, in this part of the state. Let's say two immigrants come and, you know, they don't get a marriage license and they say, well, we want to be married. I say, well, I can't marry you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, but you can, I mean, at its core marriage in the Catholic faith is a sacrament from God.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes, right. But you've got to have a marriage license first for us to solemnize the wedding, the marriage.
SEN. MCDONALD: Under civil law. Not under--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Both, yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: --under canon law?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes, under canon law. Yeah, well [inaudible] canonist. But I think, no, but I know that from in the past. If a couple doesn't have a marriage license then I can't solemnize that marriage in the church.
SEN. MCDONALD: On behalf of the State of Connecticut you can't solemnize it. Can you solemnize it on behalf of the Catholic Church?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I may not. I would be fined if they found out.
SEN. MCDONALD: By civil authority.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Put that aside for a second. I'm asking you as the archbishop.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Bishop.
SEN. MCDONALD: I'm sorry.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I'll have to send your name--
SEN. MCDONALD: I could get fined for that, I suspect. As a bishop, you know, your authority, and please correct me if I'm wrong, your authority doesn't emanate in any fashion from the State of Connecticut.
If you were a bishop in Guyana if you were a bishop in Spain, you're a bishop of the Catholic [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 3B to Tape 4A.]
--that the sacrament of marriage--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Solemnize.
SEN. MCDONALD: Sorry, solemnize the sacrament of marriage under canon law.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes. As long as, and now in the United States, as long as a couple has gone through the process of obtaining a marriage license.
SEN. MCDONALD: Correct. And so if somebody chose to actually go down to town hall and be married by a justice of the peace or a judge, the first selectman, the mayor, whoever it might be, and then came to the Catholic Church and said I'd like a religious marriage in your church. You're capable of performing that ceremony, aren't you?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Of course. Yes, it happens a lot.
SEN. MCDONALD: So my question at its core is, is it, not withstanding what the status quo is, would the Catholic Church prefer not to have the obligation to solemnize a civil marriage under state law and just perform its sacrament under its tenets?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I think that we've been happy with this relationship for year. I don't see any reasons for changing it, and I see no desire on our part to do so.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Thank you for your testimony, Bishop.
REP. LAWLOR: Senator Handley.
SEN. HANDLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Almost good evening. I have a couple of questions that I wanted to ask you.
The first one sort of follows along from Senator McDonald in talking about as you, I don't know what's going on here, the ends of marriage as opposed to the purposes.
My understanding the history of marriage, particularly in the West, in the Western world, is that there have been several ends of marriage which are different from what the Catholic Church has taught.
That is to have an orderly transfer of property from one generation to the next, and to provide social stability at times when there was, when a lot of young men were raising cane and marriage was seen as a good idea to settle them down a little bit, and other social ends.
Do you, does the church in its official looking at marriage consider these other ends as issues or are these seen as really, you know, the civil ends of marriage as opposed to the sacramental and of the sacrament itself?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: I would say that those are purposes, transfer of property, I don't know, bringing families together as they used to do. Those are purposes. That doesn't, isn't a defining end for the institution.
SEN. HANDLEY: From the church's point of view.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Exactly.
SEN. HANDLEY: The other question is a little more--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: And I would argue from a philosophical point of view, but others might have different points of view.
SEN. HANDLEY: The other is a little more personal, and if it's difficult I certainly won't push you at it.
As we all who were brought up in the Christian Church realize that the very first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding and that's always been used as a sign of his support of the institution of marriage.
But I also think about the fact that Jesus comforted the woman taken in adultery, comforted or provided to us the issue of the good Samaritan, the outlaw, the one who was really, was the true neighbor, encouraged the tax collector to eat with him at one point.
All of these were unpopular people, represented unpopular institutions.
And I do have to wonder if Jesus and his thinking about this sort of thing were around today, how he would feel about expanding marriage to a group of people.
And I don't ask you to answer that. I just ask you whether you've ever thought about it—
BISHOP ROSAZZA: No, that's nicely stated. I certainly, he would say that we have to treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with the greatest respect. But then to move to the other, I don't know. We'll ask when we see him. We can ask. Thank you though.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? Senator Meyer.
SEN. MEYER: Good evening, almost good evening, Bishop. Is my understanding correct that within becoming a clergyman, a priest, priests take an oath of celibacy.
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes.
SEN. MEYER: And am I also correct in understanding that after taking an oath of celibacy a priest and indeed a nun and many nuns actually have married the church, that there's a Catholic doctrine of marriage, a priest, a nun to the church. Would you explain that to us?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Well, especially the bishop, you know, that's why I have my ring. It's given to you when you're made a bishop and you're married to the church in a sense. I mean, the spouse of Christ.
It's been, diocese, well, you have to make all these distinctions between the diocese and clergy and the religious, but the religious sisters, they've always [inaudible] called the spouse of Christ for years, I mean, for centuries. That's something very deep in the tradition.
So there is [inaudible] marriage of the person, mystical marriage of the woman to Christ.
And I've always envied women in their relationship with Jesus, really, in the mystical sense. I mean, we have Teresa [inaudible] Julianne of [inaudible] so there's great mystics who have these beautiful relationships with Jesus.
SEN. MEYER: Indeed the scriptures refer to Jesus as a bridegroom, don't they?
BISHOP ROSAZZA: Yes.
SEN. MEYER: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there questions? Senator Cappiello.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First I just want to comment on something that Senator Handley had mentioned regarding Jesus and the people who he took in.
As someone who was raised a Catholic and someone who's also a fiscal conservative, I can say that I actually disagree with Jesus on the issue with the tax collector, having dinner with him. That's one area where we parted ways.
But, Bishop Rosazza, first I want to thank you very much for your testimony and for your testimony over the years on a number of issues.
You and I haven't always agreed on some of these issues but you've been very consistent and very thoughtful and sensitive in your comments, and I appreciate that.
Just one question, the question I had posed to a few other people earlier on. Something that isn't being asked for by one side, but I'm just curious to hear your response.
The issue of a civil union that wouldn't be, if you haven't heard this already, please and I'll elaborate, [inaudible] that would be based upon two individuals who under our current law could not be married or a contract or whatever you want to call it.
Would you oppose an idea such as that that would benefit same-sex couples, also family members who cannot marry, who are not married to anyone else, sisters, etc.?
Would that be something that you could support, the church could support, or is that--
BISHOP ROSAZZA: No, I couldn't, civil union, because if you create a civil union situation you have to open it up to heterosexual couples too, you have to, otherwise it would seem discriminatory.
Now, given the penchant, in many people anyway, to seek the lesser binding, you'd have heterosexual couples saying, well, you know, if we get the same benefits through a civil union let's go that route rather than engaging in a marriage because it's harder to get out of, you know.
In Sweden they say that that's happened. That's the only example I've read about.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there other questions? If not, thanks again, Bishop. You're always welcome here. You know that. Next is Robin McHaelen, and Ms. McHaelen will be followed by Patricia Galloway.
ROBIN MCHAELEN: Good evening. And thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about my positions personally and professionally about same-sex civil marriage.
My name is Robin McHaelen. I am the executive director of an agency called True Colors, Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services of Connecticut.
And what we do as an agency is we work with school, social service and mental healthcare agencies and other people to help them ensure that their programming is culturally competent and safe and affirming for the gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex youth and families that are part of the constituency.
And the way that we sort of do that training is by helping people look at their personal views and values about the issue of homosexuality and then decide for themselves if there's a gap between their personal views and their professional responsibilities to meet the needs of all of their clients or all of their students or all of their patients.
And then to help them develop some strategies for managing those gaps as they identify them.
One of the things that, you know, I wrote this whole testimony about why, you know, I really felt like civil marriage was, you know, that civil marriage was the only thing that I could support and I couldn't support civil unions. And so I still stand with that.
But what, I've been writing my testimony like a million times over the course since 1:00, and one of the things that sort of has come up for me as I've been listening is that we've been doing this for a really long time.
And so every time we come here, whether we're talking about civil rights legislation like in 1991, whether we're talking about co-parent adoption, and lots and lots of things that I have personally benefited from as a woman, as a lesbian, as a parent, as a partner, that every time we do that there's people talk about the same, like the same issues.
That no matter what we ask for there's all this objection to people, that same-sex people being recognized and valued and affirmed.
And what has occurred to me is that the really underlying issue is that people are afraid, here's [inaudible] I think that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people have inherent value and that the world would be a lesser place if we didn't exist.
I believe that we are a naturally occurring variation on the continuum of human sexuality, and that we exist because we have value in the world.
People like [inaudible] like George Washington Carver, like Katharine Lee Bates who wrote “America the Beautiful” and was a lesbian. That we bring value to the world, and that's sort of where I come from.
And that I think that the fear of about same-sex marriage and the fear about civil rights or any of this stuff is that if we pass the legislation it will normalize homosexual, same-sex and bisexual relationships.
And I think, bottom line, that's what people are afraid of, that it will recognize that we as people have value, that my family, my partner, my child, my family has as much validity and reality in the world as anybody else's family.
And that that's the thing that I think people fear the most. And that's what I'm asking you for. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there questions?
PATRICIA GALLOWAY: Thank you for this opportunity to make our views heard on this important issue. I'm Patricia Galloway and my husband is beside me, Wesley Galloway.
My reason for being here is my concern for Connecticut's children and our society in general. We all have a dog in this fight, whether we are gay or straight, single or married, parents or childless.
Those who say let them do what they want, it doesn't affect me or my marriage or family are sadly mistaken and extremely na´ve or oblivious to how badly our society has deteriorated morally and socially in recent decades.
This deterioration of which I speak is not some nebulous or religious thing, but has a dollar cost and results in pain and suffering for all because of the rampant divorce, violence, and sexual promiscuity in the media and in society, coarseness, addictions, pornography, STDs and abuse of all types so prevalent in Connecticut and nationwide.
I am here to talk about the basic rights and needs of children. As others have testified, children need both a mother and a father.
Millennia of experience across cultures of all types around the world prove that the natural family with a mother and a father is the best situation for rearing children into well-adjusted, successful, contributing adulthood.
Please don't sacrifice for political expedience the right of all children to have at least the opportunity to be raised by both a mother and a father.
I submit to you that none of the changes to our traditional family structure in recent decades have been good for either children or our society in general.
Recent statistics reveal that only 50% or less of this nation's children live with both a mother and father, the traditional family.
Sociologists note that this is not just a coincidence, but that there is a causal relationship between the decline in numbers of traditional families and the quality of life in our society, meaning increased violence, substance abuse, child pornography, etc.
In case you're skeptical about whether harmful consequences will result from this legislation proposed, I will give you a powerful example of this type of negative result.
Just consider if you will the millions of children being raised now and in the future by young, never-married, poorly education girls as a result of federal legislation decades ago authorizing welfare payments to pregnant teenagers.
I'm sure those legislators were well-intentioned, thinking they were doing something good for the children borne by these unwed teenagers.
Instead, these children brought into life in these circumstances are usually victimized and disadvantaged in multiple ways, with many if not most repeating the cycle of poor education, low wages, or welfare dependence, young parenthood, etc., often involving violence, abuse, and addictions.
What government sanctions [inaudible] stamp of approval on is what we get more of. We can see from the past few decades of our nation's history that the unintended consequences are almost impossible to reverse once the legislation is passed.
Whereas if government had not enabled these ill-prepared young moms to keep these children by offering a financial incentive, the children otherwise might have been placed in good adoptive homes.
This redefinition of marriage sought by this legislation would have permanent, pernicious consequences far beyond the intended extension of rights for homosexuals.
For example, it would require radical changes to what our children can be taught in schools about marriage and family life, making the world even more confusing for children than it is already.
It would result in judges in child custody cases being forced to grant equal standing to same-sex couples as to a husband-and-wife couple as custodial parents.
The institution of marriage predates governments. The covenant of marriage is regarded by most in our society as far superior to any contract, legal minds, or government agencies could create.
Other than basic licensing for public health concerns, governments in this nation have pretty much left marriage as something sacrosanct, not for them to meddle with.
That is as it should be and that should have been the final word until after those judges started turning common sense onto its head--
REP. LAWLOR: Excuse me. If you don't mind summarizing, we'd like to get through, some of the other folks would like to testify as well. All set? Thank you.
Are there questions? If not, thank you very much. And I apologize for cutting you off. I'm just trying to be fair to everyone here.
PATRICIA GALLOWAY: [inaudible]
REP. LAWLOR: Oh, that's okay. You fit in well around here. Next is Scott Novakowski. And he'll be followed by Thomas Finn, then Arthur Marquardt.
SCOTT NOVAKOWSKI: Good evening, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, Members of the Committee.
My name is Scott Novakowski. I'm a second-year graduate student in policy practice at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, where I'm a co-chair of the Committee for Multicultural Awareness and Social Justice.
I'm also an intern at DemocracyWorks, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work fairly, inclusively, and vibrantly in Connecticut and throughout the nation.
I'm here to speak today in favor of S.B. 963, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY.
The essence of this bill before you is captured within the last word of the bill's title, equality, equality based on a social identity that goes to the core of one's being.
While I'm aware of many arguments against same-sex marriage, including those on moral and religious grounds, the issue of granting legal marriage benefits to all essentially comes down to one of respecting the dignity and inherent worth of all human beings.
The concept of treating people equally, despite the fact they may be of a different race, political persuasion, or sexual orientation, is to me at least the foundation of a free and democratic society.
So I must ask, what exactly is the motivation to relegate same-sex couples to the status of second-class citizens, whether that be through civil unions or through outright denial of the right to legally validate love and commitment.
A common concern of same-sex marriage opponents is that allowing such marriages will have a detrimental effect on the American family.
Of the 50% of legally sanctioned heterosexual marriages that end in divorce, how many of these can be attributed to the prospects of legalized same-sex marriage?
Will creating second-class citizens out of same-sex couples under the guise of civil unions create an environment more conducive to stable family structures?
A brief examination of the academic literature on same-sex families indicates no discernable negative impact of same-sex marriage on the family structure, independent of the effects of traditional discriminatory attitudes towards homosexuality.
I must also state that I know plenty of happily married heterosexual couples whose families have not been destroyed, nor have they felt their marriage to be threatened, by recent events in Massachusetts, San Francisco, and most recently New York.
In fact, not allowing same-sex marriage communicates to children of same-sex couples that their families are not valuable before the law as heterosexual families.
I understand that same-sex marriage violates certain religious doctrine. Certain religious doctrine violates many of my most fundamental values as well.
The beauty of the United States is that it's a nation made up of many different racial, ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds living and learning together.
Our society is held together by respect for difference and a recognition that we are all fundamentally human beings and should be treated equally under the law.
Marriage as is discussed in this bill is a legal issue, the union of two people recognized by the state. The bill does not address the religious institution of marriage, nor do most advocates of same-sex marriage seek to amend the religious institution of marriage.
Every religion is free to define marriage in a manner that is commensurate with their own beliefs.
The state, however, should have an obligation to combat discrimination and unequal treatment in its legal codes.
Here in Connecticut, we have a chance to be a leader in the current-day continuation of the Civil Rights struggle that began in the 1950s.
I remember being in an elementary school history class and thinking how could it be possible that states and political figures could have supported slavery and later segregation.
In the land of the free how could the government codify inequality and discrimination into its laws?
I cannot help but think of what such elementary school classes will be like in 50 years.
Will my grandchildren be talking about Connecticut as a leader in granting equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, or will it be seen as a moral anachronism, functioning as an obstruction to equal treatment and fundamental human dignity?
REP. LAWLOR: If you could just--
SCOTT NOVAKOWSKI: Yeah, that was it. Thanks for the opportunity to speak today and that you're addressing this issue.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? If not, thank you once again. Next is Thomas Finn. Keith Stuart. Is Mr. Stuart here? Don Paglia. Robert Roy. Charles Reading.
Mr. Reading, you'll be followed by, is Arthur Marquardt here? What we're going to try and do, I know it's a little bit past our time. Please have a seat.
We're going to try and stay here for a little bit longer to accommodate as many people as we can. I think there may be some people who either left or who would just assume relinquish their spot to someone else.
The problem is many members of the Committee [inaudible] this evening. So we'll try and stay here a little bit to honor that.
But if you do have the opportunity to speak, please try and stick to the three minutes and that way we can get to your testimony. Mr. Reading, please, go ahead.
CHARLES READING: Thank you very much, Mr. Lawlor. I'm Charles Reading. This is my wife [inaudible].
We are the parents of six children and we have 21 grandchildren. We have had the opportunity to have several career [inaudible] and presently we are working as ecclesiastical and humanitarian ministers.
Have done so in this country, outside the country, and presently serving here in Connecticut.
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the family is central to the creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children.
The family is ordained of God and marriage between a man and a woman is essential to his eternal plan.
Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor martial vows with complete fidelity.
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection to their families.
Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
Disability, death, and other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when it's needed.
Individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.
Further, the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals and communities and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children.
The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family.
Christ's church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer equal legal status on any other sexual relationship.
I'd like to emphasize though that attempts to legalize, our opposition to the attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies. Our heart goes out to them.
We honor them as [inaudible] children of our father in heaven. We realize that they have great needs in their lives, but we also recognize that what the Lord has given is what he needs.
We welcome them in Christ's church. It's expected that they should have the same God-given rules that apply to everyone else, whether single or married. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Reading. Are there questions? If not, thanks very much. Arthur Marquardt? Is Mr. Marquardt here? Mr. Marquardt will be followed by Daniel McCann and then Emily Horne.
ARTHUR MARQUARDT: Good afternoon. I guess maybe good evening is the right way to say it. I'm Arthur Marquardt. I'm here representing the National Conference of Community and Justice where I'm currently the chair of the local Connecticut chapter.
For those of you not familiar with NCCJ, we're a human relations organization founded in 1927 with a mission of fighting bias, bigotry, and racism, and for promoting understanding among all races, religions, and cultures in our communities.
We look to transform communities and empower leaders by promoting understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures through education, advocacy, and conflict resolution.
Our Connecticut chapter was one of the first regional operations and has been active 78 years here in Connecticut fighting issues of bias, bigotry, and racism.
Civil marriage equality, marriage bonds between same-sex couples, is an area today which needs your attention.
State and federal laws routinely discriminate against same-sex couples in more than 100 federal rights, protections and responsibilities which are automatically guaranteed to heterosexual couples.
In addition, many states have similar laws that protect married but not same-sex partners.
Civil marriage equality is the step necessary to eliminate this discrimination and these inequities.
Civil marriage for same-sex couples would build on America's tradition of moving the civil rights forward and erasing inequities of the past.
This will not be the first example where the American people have changed the concept of marriage to eliminate discriminatory practices.
There was a time in our country where African American slaves were not permitted to marry. There was a time where in some western states Asian Americans were not permitted to marry.
And it wasn't until as recent as 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws in some states that made interracial marriages illegal.
Clearly, we in America and here in Connecticut have the capacity to move beyond discrimination.
As you consider marriage equality, you will receive, and have today, many arguments and viewpoints against changing the current approach and statutes.
The discussion you should engage in and focus on is government's definition of marriage and whether that provides fair, equal, and just treatment for all, not just some of our citizens.
It's understood that with this action no religious organization could or should be required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, just as no religious organization can be required to perform interfaith marriages.
Any action you take to address this issue of discrimination and intolerance will require strong leadership on your parts. I believe you recognize that.
Various positions will be presented, but at the end of the day I hope your decision is based on eliminating discrimination that exists today.
Please consider as you debate this issue the subject of civil marriage, that it will provide the broadest and most equitable coverage for our citizens.
From specific state and societal benefits, let us take the next step forward and let you provide the leadership necessary to end this discrimination--
REP. LAWLOR: --summarize, Mr. Marquardt.
AUTHUR MARQUARDT: I hope we can adopt marriage equality because it is fair not just to some but to all of our citizens. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? If not, thank you, Sir. Next is Daniel McCann. Arthur Fenner. Is Mr. Fenner here? Is Mr. Fenner here or no? Trevor Forbes. Is Mr. Forbes here? Okay. Mr. Forbes, you're followed by Emily Horne.
TREVOR FORBES: Good evening, Members of the Committee. My name is Trevor Forbes. This is my wife Cheryl.
We live in Manchester and we are here to simply state our conviction, just speaking from our heart, that we believe marriage to be between one man and one woman, that it's right and that it's beneficial for all men, for all humanity.
It's really recognized, we feel, not just certain faiths, all cultures of the world, all cultures have proven it to be the basis of family life.
And really, man has no other progenitive means, there is no other.
I'm not sure if I can speak for anybody else. I know it's not a subject that I'm qualified to even tamper with.
Six thousand years ago I suppose, why didn't God himself offer any alternatives? As we've been here, Genesis 2 has been mentioned in the past few minutes.
Now we have six children ourselves. We got to teach them, we find we have to teach them the difference between right wrong. We've got to teach them to obey the laws.
We've got to teach them really the difference between black and white. Things are right or they are wrong.
Now as we've been here, I just haven't heard any reference to what God's rights are. What are God's rights?
We want our kids, do we want our next generations to consider what God's rights are? How have we gotten here? I mean, logical steps would mean that we'd have to consider where we will go from here, but how have we gotten to where we are.
Can we analyze how have we gotten to this great country, this great state. How have we come to be where we are today? It's really due to God's blessings for our respecting his laws, what's right.
So therefore we're just here for a few minutes. We just want to urgently appeal to you don't call anything else marriage. Just don't call it marriage. It's not. It's not the same thing.
And that's all we wanted to say. Thank you for letting us come.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Forbes. And this is a question for you or to your wife if she would care to respond.
And that is, do you, you testified that you don't want to call it marriage. Is there any bundle of legal rights that either of you would allow to be conferred on same-sex couples?
TREVOR FORBES: Well, it's an interesting thing. I mean, obviously you know we're [inaudible] Christian faith. No, I couldn't endorse civil unions.
I understand the difficulty you're presented with, a lot of the social side effects of immorality. That's just my own feeling. I just couldn't endorse it.
We feel that God has said it's between a man and a woman, and there's nothing else. We all have a father, we all have a mother.
SEN. MCDONALD: Do you agree, Mrs. Forbes?
TREVOR FORBES: That's our feeling.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Other questions? If not, thanks again. Next is Emily Horne. Is Emily here?
Is Karen Hunter still here? Yeah, okay. And Mark Pearsall? How about Tom White? And James Lilly? Just trying to get a sense. Please go ahead.
EMILY HORNE: Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald, and Members of the Judiciary Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak before you about a really important issue that I have.
My name is Emily Horne. I am 19 years old. And I have two moms. My moms are my role models. They've given me all the love, guidance and support any kid needs from their parents.
They have taught me lessons about making good decisions. They have listened to me and given me good advice and taken care of me.
Sometimes I thought that they were too strict or too involved in my life as I was growing up.
But as I got older, I realized that all the attention was because they wanted the best for me. And I think I'm turning out to be a pretty great person because of the love of my moms.
I'm here today to speak to you about the right of my moms to get married. I see men and women married because they love each other and want to be together forever. I don't think that they think about the legal rights behind it.
My mom and her partner love each other too. They plan to spend the rest of their life together. Why can't they have the same legal rights as men and women do? I don't really understand that.
When I think about the fact that my moms cannot get legally married, I think it's unfair and disrespectful to my moms and me and my family.
I feel we are being discriminated against and it makes me made and a lot of times it makes me sad.
When I was younger, I felt that maybe there was something wrong with my family because my moms couldn't get married. As I got older though, I know that there's nothing wrong with me or my family.
I know there's something wrong with the laws that deny my parents equal rights.
I think that this is the year that I will be able to see my moms get the right to marry. You have the chance to pass the law that gives my parents the right, the same rights and the protections as other families.
I have heard my parents talk about civil union. I never really heard this term before so I asked what it was.
And they told me that legislators want to give my moms the civil rights of marriage, but they want to call it something different. They want to call it civil union.
Why? Why does my family have to have a name for their love and commitment? Why can't my family have married parents? Is it because we're not equal? This doesn't really seem fair to me.
Some people say that if same-sex couples marry it will hurt their children. I want you to know that what's really hurting me is that you're not letting my parents, or not you guys, but the law is not letting my parents get married.
I'm asking you to pass this bill for marriage for same-sex couples. I hope you do the fair and right thing this year and that my family gets the respect that we deserve. Thank you for your time.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Please, the applause is deserved, but it breaks our rule, so I'm sorry. And, you know, it is us guys who have to decide. But that's why we're here and we're going to try and make a decision. Thank you.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Mr. Chairman, I think you mean guys and women?
REP. LAWLOR: Yeah, I use the guys in the gender-neutral.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: Just making sure, Mr. Chairman.
REP. LAWLOR: Probably you're not with it, Senator Cappiello. These days guys is sort of generic.
SEN. CAPPIELLO: I'm very unhip. It must be my age--
REP. LAWLOR: Any other questions? Representative McMahon.
REP. MCMAHON: I just want to thank you, Emily, for coming. We love to hear from young people, and especially the young people who are directly affected by, you know, this piece of legislation we have before you. Your moms can be very proud of you.
EMILY HORNE: Well, thank you for your time.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Tom White.
TOM WHITE: Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald, and Members of the Judiciary Committee, my name is Tom White.
I'm the director of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in South Windsor. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and thank you for your graciousness during this afternoon while asking tough questions.
I oppose the proposed legislation. For all of my 25 years of ordained ministry, I have been in formal and informal dialogues on homosexuality.
My experience has been that the average person in the church and the average citizen, including homosexuals themselves, believe that sexual orientation in general and homosexuality specifically is genetically or biologically caused.
Thus same-sex orientation is unchangeable and the church and society should not deny civil rights for something that people cannot change.
A church official put it this way. It's a matter of theology, sorry, it's not a matter of theology, it's a matter of biology.
This may be the case with many legislators, including you on the Judiciary Committee. I noticed in today's Courant that was the case with Congressman John Lewis.
I'm going to take a risk my three minutes in the sun here. If this is the case with you, I hope to challenge not your integrity but perhaps your intelligence.
Because of this genetic/biological understanding, for over 15 years now I have studied the scientific research on homosexuality.
I believe that many people are motivated by three elements on this subject, experience, ignorance and emotions. Together they provide powerful motivation.
My studies have led me to coin a phrase, manipulation by omission. The average citizen and, I suspect, legislator has not read scientific research. Most receive their information from the media, both print and over the air.
While not absolutely true, for at least 15 years the mainstream media has given a false impression because of what it has omitted. The media paraded a few researchers who it proclaimed has discovered genetic causation.
For the most part, the same media did not include researchers who either specifically refuted the cited research or simply had contradictory research.
Also ignored, for the most part, were the celebrated researchers' statements that they did not discover exclusive or genetic biological causation. You have attached the Globe article, the fading gay gene.
Another mainstream media is the cover story of a Life magazine, were you born that way, three sentences from this dealing with Dean Hammer's research at the National Institute of Health.
The hoopla which these discoveries have greeted, gay gene the headlines blared, has obscured the fact that other institutions have had mixed results when trying to replicate the findings.
It has also made it seem as if a single gene dictates specific behaviors. The reality is more complicated. Genes don't make men gay or children timid.
I'll stop there. You have my attached and the rest of my written.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Reverend. But, I mean, I think you have identified one of the main points of this agreement on this topic.
In other words, I think as you stated yourself, if you view homosexuality as something that's there innately, you know, it affects the way you view this issue.
So let me just ask you, if someone like myself or I think many others who think that you're either born gay or straight or whatever, if that's what you think then that logically would follow that we should open up the institution of marriage for people who are gay. Does that make sense?
TOM WHITE: That's what a lot of people have said to me. Yes, that's what--
REP. LAWLOR: But that is logical, right? So if you think that way to start with that where--
TOM WHITE: Well, I would argue that causation should not determine morality. There would be other behaviors that we might regard as, could be argued as genetically caused.
The average homosexual person who is motivated to change their orientation, the success rate is one-third to two-thirds. For pedophiles, the success rate is in the single digits. I read 4%. I've read researchers who say it's nearly impossible for pedophiles to change.
But I don't think we would argue that just because it's unchangeable, science seems to indicate that it's unchangeable, that we should support or legalize that behavior.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, I guess the thing would be there's an identifiable victim in the case of a pedophile.
TOM WHITE: You would call them victim.
REP. LAWLOR: I would, yeah, definitely.
TOM WHITE: Yeah, well, that's my point. But just because we see something that either is unchangeable or it might even be called nature. There are other cultures that do promote what we would call pedophilia.
REP. LAWLOR: There are?
TOM WHITE: David Greenberg, in his encyclopedic 1988 book The Construction of Homosexuality, I think I cite that in my written material, does an [inaudible] study of cultures around time and around the world.
Currently New Guinea is one tribe where as an initiation rite into adulthood the teen boys have relationships with the adult men and then later go into relationships with women, regular, what we would see as regular heterosexual marriage.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? If not, thank you very much.
TOM WHITE: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Karen Hunter. Is Karen Hunter still here? Mark Pearsall. Is Mr. Pearsall here? I'm sorry. Are you Karen? Okay, I'm sorry.
KAREN HUNTER: Good evening. My name is Karen Hunter and I'm here with partner, Reverend Patricia Gallagher, who's the priest in charge at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in East Haddam.
PATRICIA GALLAGHER: We have very different [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 4A to Tape 4B.]
KAREN HUNTER: --got divorced and became a couple. Between us we have five children and Pat has nine grandchildren with another one on the way.
We understand the critical importance of good parenting and good grandparenting and of healthy family life.
This past Wednesday the Hartford Courant ran a large article, much larger than we had anticipated, about us and about Pat's struggle as an openly gay priest in the Episcopal Church.
As I think everyone knows, the Episcopal Church is in the midst of its own difficult journey around the homosexual issue.
The reason I bring this article up is because we were taken by surprise by two things. First, that of all the e-mails, phone calls, and letters we received, there was not one negative response and no hate mail.
Second, what surprised us was the number of people who didn't just call or write or e-mail to say they saw the article, but who did so to thank us for being so public about our relationship.
One person wrote to thank us for, quote, giving voice to the voiceless. Another wrote to say we were, quote, like angels from God.
Pat's grandchildren are aware of the nature of our relationship and they ask all the questions they have as they get old enough to ask them.
One of Pat's grandsons, at the age of seven, asked us, or asked her, is it a real marriage, Nana. And she said we believe our relationship is a real marriage. What do you think. And he said it feels real to me too.
When the Hartford Courant article came out, one of my daughters sent an e-mail from Antarctica where she is a marine biologist doing research and she wrote to congratulate us.
My other daughter, a senior at UConn, bought the newspaper and took it to show all her friends.
Pat's daughter-in-law said when she saw the article you go for it, you have nine grandchildren and chances are that at least one of them is gay. If not more. You have to keep speaking out for your grandchildren's sake so they won't have to grow up in a homophobic society like the one we all grew up in.
Our children, our grandchildren, our extended family, our friends and neighbors all see us as a married couple. We hope you will too and will vote accordingly.
PATRICIA GALLAGHER: I would like to make my point very brief since my partner took all the time. Sounds like a marriage, doesn't it?
Just to state quickly, I don't want only state rights. I don't want to be tolerated only. I want federal rights. I want acceptance. I want dignity for my family and for myself.
I want the word marriage. I want that word. I want it because it is the powerful word today. It is the legal word. It is the sacred word.
I want from you all, please, the same rights and dignity I had when I was in a heterosexual marriage for 32 years, and please don't tell me I can change. I had tried.
I am who I am and I've never been happier. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? Thanks again. James Lilly. Michael Gonzalez. Is Mr. Gonzalez here? Louis Remlin. Is Mr. Remlin here? Mr. Remlin will be, is Mark Pearsall here?
Okay. You'll be next. Why don't you come on up, Mr. Pearsall. Get in the on-deck circle. You can go ahead. He's going to get in the on-deck circle.
LOUIS REMLIN: For if you, Jesus Christ said for if you love them that love you what reward shall you have.
This quote from Jesus our savior helps us to learn what true love is, for we have to say no to sin and one of the four sins [inaudible] is one reason why we are here.
Certain images can be full of pleasure for some, but that does not put charity above all. Charity above all teaches us what is best for our bodies, spirits, and a wholesome society.
There is only one type of marriage, only one type of union, so anything else cannot be equivocated with that. It may seem funny, but sometimes something cute does not make it correct.
Even in the spiritual realm the reality is that improper behavior puts us on the road to hell but the opposite to heaven.
I suppose the devil is upset. All that we say or think we are judged on. This includes modesty. If we're to be modest in thought will help put legislation on the correct path and avoid legislation that does not in the realm, that is not in the realm of legislation.
Sometimes what we meditate on becomes legislation, ergo it is good to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, on the cross, on the passion.
If God has hardened our hearts, miracles can still happen. Psalm 51 tells us have mercy on me, oh, God, of my sin cleanse me. Sin must not exist in any of our text and our conscience must be correctly formed.
An ear is not used for walking and the foot is not used for listening. When we allow other people to destroy their beauty, our beauty is also destroyed.
Happiness is not complicated while joy can happen in an evil legislation, like ha-ha, now I'm destroying those Catholics, it does bring remorse at the end of our life.
Humility is a grace from God. And those who live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, as hopefully we all do, see that the holy family of Nazareth is the model for all families whether we like it or not.
To mingle with people that we are repulsed by shows that we are not exclusive in our friendships. True, that sometimes many of us have friends that are dear to our hearts and we must lay down our lives for them.
For each other here but properly speaking all our brothers and sisters that we grew up with or the chums we invited to our house had a supernatural quality of joy and a proper etiquette unspokenly known that must be respected and sacrificed at times.
Because if we take it on our own initiative to do this type of etiquette, it can turn into something sinful, so proper balance and a correct morality is needed to be fostered.
A proper love will be from the Holy Spirit. That is what is needed among every person. We must turn our attention to the starving, to building shelters on the very sidewalks where the homeless sleep. To honesty in education not for [inaudible] profit.
I would like to end here with a prayer for this Legislation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is our Lady of Sorrow, Mary [inaudible] which we can all pray together [inaudible] we can say not my will but thine be done.
And this was said for all of us, ergo let us all make text as the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II does.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Remlin. Are there questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is Mark Pearsall.
MARK PEARSALL: Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Committee, my name is Mark Pearsall and this is my spouse, Paul Trube.
We have been a committed couple for 16 years and have become intimate parts of each other's lives and families as we have created our own family.
We live in Lebanon and, in addition to our day jobs, we have a small dairy farm. We know the legal rights of marriage are important, as we have learned the hard way.
As just one example, several years ago Paul was struck by a drunk driver head on. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
I was refused entrance to see him at the hospital and was unable to gain any information about his condition for over an hour as I waited terrified in the waiting room.
Finally, only after Paul was lucid and able to request my presence, was I allowed to see him.
We do not think that it is just that we should have to endure such emotional duress because we are denied recognition of our relationship as married.
But marriage is also important to us because it defines the relationship that Paul and I have together.
We both come from large Irish-Catholic families. Last summer, we were blessed to have the support of our families at our marriage ceremony in Massachusetts, the state where we were both born and raised.
Marrying has allowed us to speak and live the truth about who we are together. This recognition of our relationship is also the fulfillment of my mother's last wishes.
She had been diagnosed with cancer in April of 2003, and on one of the last days of her life she called the members of our family together to tell us her final thoughts and wishes.
She also took the time to give each of us a gift by which to remember her after she was gone.
When it came to my turn, she took off the wedding band and engagement ring she had worn for 42 years and placed them on the table in front of Paul and me.
She declared to the family that she was giving them to us. She said I want to offer these rings to Mark and Paul because I want to state publicly that I support them as a couple and that I view their relationship to be a marriage equal to that of all my other children or to my own.
I don't know if the laws will ever catch up, but I see them as married and Paul is a part of my family.
The law did catch up in Massachusetts. And we urge you to catch up the law here as well. For beyond all our love and commitment and stability over the years, being married has changed our lives and the lives of those around us.
Our families and work colleagues, as supportive as they have been, are closer and more connected with us because they now understand our relationship as a marriage.
They now see us as a family and in every way as much a family as their own. There is no longer any explaining the terminology or conceding that we are somehow different or less deserving of the real thing.
It's wrong to deny any citizen basic rights and privileges that are given so freely to others.
Please support full marriage rights for same-sex couples in this state. And thank you for your time, your consideration, and your leadership for our families.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thanks again. Representative Adinolfi.
REP. AL ADINOLFI: It's been a long day. I know what you gentlemen are going through up there.
Good morning, Chairman McDonald and Chairman Lawlor. I don't see any others here. I started it out in the morning so I'm going to stick with that.
For the record, I'm Al Adinolfi and I'm the State Representative of the 103rd District. Today I appear before you in support of maintaining the traditional role and legal construction of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
And perhaps we should even reiterate a little bit more on man and woman and enhance that definition to say as a union of two people that have the capability through their organic make-up and physical union with each other could create a family, though always not successful.
I've been married for 50 years this year. And I have two children, six grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. I'm very proud of this. We're a good family.
And I feel that if we pass this legislation as proposed that to me, and other people I'm associated with, would make my marriage feel meaningless, because its significance in the history of marriage that nature has provided us.
I've appeared before this Committee in the past to speak in favor of protecting and preserving the legal definition of marriage.
Since the last time this Committee heard testimony on this subject, advocates of gay marriage and civil unions initiated a constitutional challenge to Connecticut's marriage laws.
What they have been unable to implement through the democratic process and unable to martial in public opinion they are now trying to institute with judicial activism, as was done in Massachusetts.
Make no mistake that this type of activism undermines the foundations of our republic by attempting to go around the people of our state and their representatives who overwhelmingly resist these laws.
Thirty-nine states now have legal standing opposed to the permitting of gay marriage. Of those, 17 have implemented constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage. Twenty-two have statutes that defend marriage and define it as being between one man and one woman.
I recommend that Connecticut adopt legislation that defends marriages in this way as well, and further bans civil unions.
Activists who want to break down the traditional definition of marriage and assail one of the most critical foundations of our society and culture have claimed that the current law discriminates against same-sex partners and have used survivorship and inheritance issues to demonstrate the discrimination they claim.
Marriage is not a bundle of rights and privileges to be handed out. It is a bond between one man and one woman, the sanctity of which this institution should uphold and protect and affirm. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is Terry Davis. Is Bruce Stratford still here? And Dennis Dostert? Okay. Please go ahead, Sir.
TERRY DAVIS: I am Terry Davis. I'm thankful to the Committee for your patience all day long listening to our testimony.
I'm speaking as a Presbyterian clergyperson with 38 years of experience, all spent as pastors of various Presbyterian congregations in three different states.
I'm presently pastor of the oldest continuing Presbyterian church in the State of Connecticut, located three blocks down Capitol Avenue.
I come to speak in favor of complete equality for same-sex couples. I've known a number of same-sex couples in monogamous, long-term committed relationships, and see in their relationships the same depth of love and commitment that I've seen in the best of opposite-sex couples.
There is no logical reason that their relationships should not enjoy the same sanctions and the same protections that the state extends to others.
To the contrary, it is a matter of civil rights that sexual minorities should be free from second-class status, should be able to inherit property, should be recognized as next of kin for medical decisions, should be able to adopt children together, enjoy all the other protections that the state provides automatically for opposite-sex couples who are married.
I vigorously reject the claim of the religious right that recognition of same-sex marriages will undermine the institution of marriage.
In no way does the relationship of the same-sex couples I know threaten the relation I have with the woman to whom I've been married for nearly 36 years.
I think in fact the example of love and fidelity I see in some same-sex couples can serve to strengthen the institution of marriage.
I urge the Committee to recommend to the Legislature that Connecticut join with its neighbor to the north in providing complete equality for same-sex couples and recognize all partnerships on the same basis.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thank you very much, Reverend.
TERRY DAVIS: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Bruce Stratford.
BRUCE STRATFORD: Chairman McDonald and Chairman Lawlor, and Members of the Judiciary Committee, good evening.
My name is Bruce Stratford. You've already met my wife. We live in Trumbull and have been Connecticut residents for over 25 years.
I'm here to speak against S.B. 963 and H.B. 6601, based on the history of the State of Connecticut.
This state traces its history back to the 1600s, when it was founded by those seeking religious freedom. In the earliest documents that set down their basic laws, rules, orders, and decrees, these settlers acknowledged their dependence upon God.
From the original fundamental orders of 1638 and '39, I quote, where a people are gathered together, the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion should require, close quote.
The principal truth recognizing God as the source of our blessings and rights appeared in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and in the Constitution of the State of Connecticut adopted in 1818.
From the Declaration of Independence, I quote, we owe these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
From the Preamble to the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, I quote, the people of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good providence of God in having permitted them to enjoy a free government, due in order more effectually to define, secure and perpetuate the liberties, rights, and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors hereby after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following Constitution and form of civil government, close quote.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to our ancestors for the liberties, rights, and privileges they have secured for us.
They recognize these liberties, rights, and privileges come from God and nowhere else. That principle has not changed in over 360 years.
We need to recognize that God's will should be the foundation for our rules and laws. Like the founders of Connecticut, I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is essential to the creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children.
Traditional families consisting of a father and a mother are the best place to raise children.
Any act that dilutes the preferred definition of marriage as the uniting in wedlock of a man and a woman as husband and wife is untrue to the values that inspired our ancestors to sacrifice all they had to preserve these liberties, rights, and privileges.
We cannot expect to enjoy God's blessings if we do not defend the institution of marriage as God has defined it.
Therefore, I ask you to vote against S.B. 963 and H.B. 6601. God bless the State of Connecticut and its public officials who have taken an oath to support the State Constitution, quote, so help me God, close quote. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Stratford. It's interesting that you're quoting from that original Connecticut Constitution.
Did you know in that Constitution it established an official state religion for the State of Connecticut?
BRUCE STRATFORD: Yes, I do. And that was repealed later on.
REP. LAWLOR: Congregational church.
BRUCE STRATFORD: Yes.
REP. LAWLOR: I thought it was an interesting fact. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. I think very shortly we're going to hear at least one member--
BRUCE STRATFORD: A later revision, I believe, gave, you know, equal rights to all churches and removed that state church.
REP. LAWLOR: That's right. But you supported that change, I assume.
BRUCE STRATFORD: Yes, yes. But there's no doubt that we stem from an eternal being named God. And that's where we get our rights.
REP. LAWLOR: I understand. But I think part of our dilemma as policymakers is, number one, to look at the civil implications of this, but also to acknowledge that clergy and religious scholars differ on this fundamental question of homosexuality and the recognition of same-sex couples.
There is a diversity of opinion. Would you not agree with that?
BRUCE STRATFORD: I agree there's a diversity of opinion among men.
REP. LAWLOR: And women.
BRUCE STRATFORD: Men as the same way I guess guys were used before. And among men and women, yes.
REP. LAWLOR: Just clarifying. And are there other questions? Thank you very much.
BRUCE STRATFORD: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is the Reverend Davida Crabtree. Correct me if I'm wrong, Reverend, you are a reverend in the church that once was the official state religion in the State of Connecticut.
DAVIDA CRABTREE: That's right. Thank you, Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald, and Members of the Judiciary Committee.
I do indeed sit here this evening as a conference minister for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ.
I need to say as I begin that the resolution which I am presenting this evening was adopted by the delegates to our conference Annual Meeting this past fall. It's adopted by a vote of 72% of the delegates voting in support of the civil right of marriage for same-sex couples.
I need to be clear that this does not represent the opinions of all the members of our churches. I can't imagine anybody would think it did.
I also need to be clear that there is a great diversity within our members. However, those who are delegate to our Conference Annual Meeting are honored and esteemed members of our churches and vote according to their conscience.
This resolution was deferred for a year for study and was then voted.
Whereas Jesus throughout his short ministry emphasized God's compassion for and inclusion of all humanity, and whereas Jesus overturned purity laws which maintained cultural walls between Jews and others around them.
Whereas one purity law in Leviticus is often cited in opposition to same-sex relationships, while other acts equally condemned are ignored, such as eating creatures of the water that do not have fins and scales or wearing clothes made of two blended fabrics.
And whereas we understand many of Jesus' teachings require the church and society to welcome people whom others shun.
And whereas legal marriage, which strengthens the union of committed couples by adding to their economic, emotional, and social stability, is a civil right currently denied to same-sex couples.
And whereas a partial precedent has been set by individual congregations within many religious communities which already allow holy unions or commitment services of same-sex couples even though Connecticut law has yet to recognize such unions.
And whereas the principal of separation of church and state assures that no law passed by the legislature would require a particular religion or a particular congregation to perform marriages for same-sex couples.
Therefore be it resolved that we the delegates to this 137th Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ declare that the denial of the civil right of marriage of same-sex couples is an unwarranted act of exclusion.
There are two additional resolves in this resolution which I will not read because of time.
They simply ask us all to prayerfully study the issue and instructed me to communicate this resolution to you.
I want to add to my comments in this regard that the vote of the Annual Meeting was 390 to 138, with 20 abstaining. The resolution was significantly debated and amended during the course of our Annual Meeting.
And it is where we stand as the oldest and largest protestant denomination in Connecticut, representing the delegates to our Conference Annual Meeting. And I thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Reverend. And I'm just recalling the words of the resolution, I don't know if I have them correctly, but it seemed to refer from time to time about this shunning phenomenon.
And it comes to mind because I know earlier on we were discussing what apparently is in the Connecticut state law at the moment, this notion of not condoning homosexuality, bisexuality, that type of thing.
It's in there. That's been in there, I guess, for some time, in connection with other legislation passed years ago.
And do you have any advice for us based on the principles stated in your resolution--
DAVIDA CRABTREE: Yes, it would be my testimony to this Committee that the language of condoning raises for me the question of whether the laws which institute heterosexuality as a standard for behavior in our state mean that we condone all forms of heterosexual marriage and conditions of life.
I don't believe that we do. And I think that the language of condoning that is in the law is paternalistic at best. And that it should not be there, because all of our citizens should be equal in the eyes of the law.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there other questions? Representative Hovey.
REP. HOVEY: Good evening, Reverend. I just had a question about your process. It was your 137th Annual Meeting. And approximately 500 people attended, right?
DAVIDA CRABTREE: It was, there were probably about 600 persons in the room at the time, yes.
REP. HOVEY: And can you just tell me how your delegates are chosen?
DAVIDA CRABTREE: Are delegates are elected by their local churches, usually at their annual meetings.
Delegates are apportioned according to the size of the church, with every church having at least two delegates, some churches having as many as six or seven, depending upon the size of the church.
REP. HOVEY: Thank you. And are pastors part of the delegation also?
DAVIDA CRABTREE: Pastors are also automatically included as members of the conference. Our conference is made up of the churches and the pastors.
REP. HOVEY: Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? And I forget the statistic, but I heard it once, there's like if you rate the churches by size, the denominations by size in the state, I know the Roman Catholic Church is the largest.
Do you know where it is the United Church of Christ falls?
DAVIDA CRABTREE: We are the largest protestant denomination in the state with 97,000 members, 253 churches spread across almost all of the 169 towns.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Other questions? If not, thank you very much.
DAVIDA CRABTREE: Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Next is Dennis Dostert. Is Mr. Dostert here? Next is Chledza Rodriguez. And just as you're coming up, Ms. Rodriguez, please have a seat.
We've exhausted the list of people who had signed up in opposition to the bills pursuant to a lottery system earlier.
We've got quite a few more on the support. In fact, more remaining on the list than have already testified, actually. And I notice some other folks who have signed up on the supplementary list which we're obviously not going to get to.
And I think in fairness to members of the Committee, many of whom have other plans in their districts, etc. tonight, we may not be able to continue this for much longer, but at least for the next 10 or 15 minutes we'll keep [inaudible].
But our apologies, we tried to devise a system which makes it as extraditious as possible. If you were here at the beginning, obviously the two first speakers provide a lot of commentary which is important for us to keep in mind, sort of the lead people in this topic.
And so that chewed up about three hours of time right there. So we apologize ahead of time, but we're going to do our best to get through at least a few more. So please go ahead.
CHLEDZA RODRIGUEZ: Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and the Members of the Judiciary Committee who have still stayed with us today, my name is Chledza Rodriguez. I'm the vice chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Issues Commission for the City of Hartford.
And I'm here today representing the wishes of the Commission to publicly support marriage equality for same-sex couples here in the State of Connecticut.
I'm also here to tell you that you guys are the ones who have in your hands the power to make the laws of this state equitable for all of its citizens.
As the public servants that we are, it is our duty to make sure that we represent and protect all of our citizens.
Marriage equality for same-sex couples is about protecting all of our families, to make sure that our children and those we love are protected and bound by the same laws.
Part of the mission of the LGBT City Commission is to assist in the elimination of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice against those of the LGBT community.
If you vote against marriage equality for same-sex couples, you'll be supporting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
As a Legislature and as the Commission, we must work together and stand for justice and for equality.
On a personal note, I, a Latina lesbian, know how it feels to have to fight for every opportunity, to have to prove you're twice as good to be considered equal. I think it's wrong.
I think that it shouldn't be this way. I shouldn't be denied the right to take care of my children if my partner passes away. I shouldn't be denied the right to make sure that my family can enjoy the fruits of our labor together if something should happen.
I should not be denied the right to marry the person I love regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
I should not be denied, and I will not be denied. I am here as a commissioner, a Latina, a lesbian, a woman, a sister, and a daughter to fight for and demand equality that is due to me, the rights and protections that my family has fought for in so many ways.
I stand before you because, I really wanted to be standing, today to ask you to stand with me and stand up for equality for every individual in the State of Connecticut.
Stand up and say enough to discrimination. I mean, I leave you with a Latino phrase that I feel is very, very fitting, it's like [inaudible] enough with discrimination. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thanks a lot. Jason Kelliher. Is Mr. Kelliher here? And after that is Carolyn Gabel-Brett, then John Friedlander, and then Representative Evelyn Mantilla.
JASON KELLIHER: Good evening, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Lawlor, and Members of the Committee. I thank you all for staying late to hear those of us who still have opinions and want them to have heard.
Earlier you heard from my husband, Brian Rice. Me and him were married as residents of Massachusetts in the summer of 2004.
Probably the proudest day and the most joyous day of my life was my marriage to Brian for many reasons.
Through the three years that we'd been together prior to that, I had been able to watch him graduate from college, stand by him as he came out to his family.
And I stood by him and supported him through three years of law school and the taking of two simultaneous bar exams, something that I'm sure many people in the room have a familiarity with.
But most of all I remember the reason who we chose to get married. First, that I loved him. Not just that I supported him, but that I loved him more than anything else I ever have in my life.
Second was for security. As I said, I stood by him through law school and taking the bar exam. And at that point in our relationship we came up to a time when he was looking for a job. He was looking to become a lawyer out in the world.
And there was no guarantee we were going to stay where we were, were we going to stay in Boston where the job market was bad for him. He had to start looking outside of the state that we lived in for his job.
And at that point I had to reflect on do I leave everything I have, do I leave my friends, my family, the network, a job, if I had one, to go and move with him to another location with absolutely no security for my being.
And at that time, when I was thinking that, we had the option. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts had passed, you know, made the ruling to make marriage legal in the State of Massachusetts.
So I was suddenly given a security, at least a security in terms of a legal marriage, a binding legal document contract that we entered in the State of Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, that contract isn't recognized at this time pretty much anywhere outside of the State of Massachusetts.
But it's a risk that we took anyways, to have that done, so we had that there then before we took the move. So I knew when I gave up a large chunk of my life for him to continue his life I had some sense of security for what I was going to keep.
Unfortunately, many of those things that I've gotten from the security, health insurance for the first time in over five years, I went five years without health insurance. Finally have it, unfortunately, as Brian stated, we're taxed on that.
It's, you know, his company gave him the line, you're getting the exact same benefits all married couples in our company get.
Is it the exact same benefit and then to be taxed on it? In my opinion it's not. In my opinion there's a little disclaimer of fine print that wasn't included in the exact same benefits that we offer.
Not their problem, unfortunately, because it's the state and the federal government both that are taxing us on this benefit.
Unfortunately, like I said, there's a lot of places that don't recognize gay marriage. Eventually we want to adopt and raise children. They're not recognized either in some states.
My question is how would you feel to anyone out there if you knew that if you had to move you had to first check whether or not your relationship was going to be validated as a heterosexual before you had to move.
REP. LAWLOR: Are there questions? If not, thanks again. Carolyn Gabel-Brett.
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: Good evening, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and Members of the Committee.
My name is Carolyn Gabel-Brett and I am proud to testify today in support of Raised S.B. 963, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY, and Raise H.B. 6601, AN ACT CONCERNING MARRIAGE RECOGNITION.
This past June 19th, my spouse, Leslie, and I did something wonderful and powerful that everyone should have the right to do. We got legally married.
We were able to get legally married after being in a loving relationship for 25 years, because we are lucky enough to own a home in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is now fully legal.
For us it is about love, equality, and our civil rights. But why should we have the freedom to marry when so many of our friends sitting in this room today or working at their jobs or taking care of their children in homes across Connecticut do not.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about our wedding. The sun came out as we stood on the deck of our home on the Cape, surrounded by our families and a few dear friends.
Our children and our two granddaughters were there, all of our siblings, several nieces and nephews were there, Leslie's parents were there, my parents, who are 93 and 95, could not make the trip so we put a picture of them up beside the wedding cake.
We were embraced by love. It was a short ceremony. Our kids and grandkids held a canopy over our heads. Our dear friends said a few words. Then we said a few words. The justice of the peace declared us legally married.
After the cheering and the tears, our family and friends offered toasts and we had lunch. It was a joyous day, incredibly special to us, yet so very much like thousands and thousands of other weddings that bring joy to couples and families every year.
Excluding same-sex couples from the joys, protections and responsibilities of civil marriage is unfair and undemocratic. Excluding us from the civil laws that govern the orderly course of committed relationships, laws that govern mutual responsibility, financial obligations, property, care of children, inheritance, healthcare decisions, and so on make us outlaws for no reason.
But the exclusion does even more harm than that. It conveys an inferior status, an unmistakable statement of segregation and discrimination.
And some other second-class scheme, whether it is called domestic partnership or civil union, deepens the discrimination.
Two of our adult children are happily married. What sense does it make to see them enter this relationship through the front door and require us to come in through the back.
We are loving and proud, not ashamed. And in this nation we have learned that separate is never equal and will not stand the test of history.
For my spouse and me, the struggle is not quite over. We have no guarantee that our legal marriage in Massachusetts will be honored here in Connecticut, even though Connecticut has always honored the lawful marriages of other states and countries.
We are on the path of a major civil rights struggle and the path leads to justice. Connecticut has often led the way on this journey and I believe it will lead the way again.
The path to marriage equality should be a simple one. After all, it's about love, it's about equality, and it's about time. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Senator McDonald.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. And welcome and thank you for your testimony. I guess you were the second couple that are here before us today who can say that they are married under the eyes of the law at least in one state.
So let me pose to you the same question that I posed to my constituents from Stamford, and that is, are you going to be in a position where you have to file tax returns in two states or are you just filing tax returns in one?
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: No. We would assume we would just file our taxes here in Connecticut.
SEN. MCDONALD: You didn't earn any income in Massachusetts.
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: In Massachusetts no. We pay property taxes in Massachusetts. So we will pay our property taxes, but as far as filing income taxes we would file here.
And to be honest, we're not quite sure how we're going to file those taxes. I mean, that's a question and we'll have to talk to our lawyers about how we handle that.
Because I personally don't feel willing to check off single in Connecticut. I mean, we are legally married.
SEN. MCDONALD: Right. And have you identified any other incidents yet where, and I know you probably can't contemplate all of them, but incidents where you are not going to be able to benefit from the marriage that you are possessing, I guess, under the State of Massachusetts law here in Connecticut?
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: Well, it's been interesting because we've done a few steps. One thing, we hyphenated our names as a way actually to sort of break that invisibility about the fact that we are now legally married.
And so we did have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. And DMV did go through a little process. They weren't quite sure how to handle our request at first because our marriage license is the document that shows for the change in our name.
And they, after a little discussion and a little discussion with the [inaudible] office, they have now in fact accepted that as documentation for our name change.
As well as we have had our names changed, using our marriage certificate, for changing our names on our Social Security card. So we've made a few little--
SEN. MCDONALD: Let me follow up with that then. Normally in the State of Connecticut when you want to do a name change you're required to go to the probate court and file an application there.
Your experience has been that the state has acknowledged your marriage and administratively changed your name without the benefit of a probate court application.
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: We've used our marriage certificate as the legal documentation for name change.
SEN. MCDONALD: And the same is true with your Social Security?
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: Yes. I mean, just for the name. But it is true that they're baby steps, but they're small little steps of acknowledging and using our marriage certificate as a legal document.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay, getting the federal government to acknowledge that was probably no small feat. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: I think in a way it's probably the best illustration of what's to come now with all these technical complications that are kind of boring to most people but very significant in the eyes of the law.
You know, no matter how you try and get around it, you basically can't get around it at the end of day as a simple solution to all of this, you know.
CAROLYN GABEL-BRETT: We're taking it one step at a time.
REP. LAWLOR: There you go. Good advice. Very good advice. Is there any further questions? If not, thank you very much. Next is John Friedlander. Is Representative Mantilla still here?
JOHN FRIEDLANDER: Good evening. I want to thank Co-Chairs McDonald and Lawlor for their handling of this lengthy session. Thank you very much for your patience. And ladies and gentlemen of the Committee, thank you.
My name is John Friedlander. I'm a resident of Haddam, Connecticut. I'm here speaking both for myself and for my wife Debbie who couldn't be here, who after many months of fighting the moral quandary we did choose to get married.
I'm also here speaking in solidarity with my sister who is the reason we thought about it for quite awhile. My sister is a Yale and Stanford educated attorney living in the City of San Francisco, a lesbian single mom who could not participate in this sacrament. And we gave that long thought.
I'm also here speaking in loving memory of my father's cousin, Richard Blankston of New York City, who was a soldier hero in America's fight against fascism during World War II.
He was an infantryman in the combat line at the Battle of the Bulge in the war in Europe for 103 days during some of the toughest fighting of the war.
When that battle finally was won, Richard was assigned to a graves registration outfit that stayed behind to collect the frozen bodies of the dead.
No one will ever know how many families in the United States can be grateful to Richard for his service in searching out, finding, and identifying the mangled remains of their fallen loved ones.
No one who hasn't done it can ever know the horrors of those tasks, both in the battle and in its aftermath. And I ask could there have been a higher service to America and Americans.
Yet throughout the remainder of his life at home in the United States, Richard was victimized by prejudice, discrimination, humiliation and economic insecurity for only one reason, because he was [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 4B to Tape 5A.]
--Richard was subject to immediate dismissal without appeal if his sexual identity had become known.
Richard's partner, Bill Johnson, was as loyal and devoted to Richard as any legal spouse ever could have been.
In his final years, Richard was increasingly sick. He required constant care and repeated hospitalizations. Bill nursed and cared for Richard with faithful tenderness.
Yet because they could not have access to marriage or civil union, when it was over Bill had no legal status or survivor benefits other than the modest legacy Richard was able to leave for him.
For a number of years Richard worked alongside Dr. John Motley, a distinguished music educator in New York City, and director of the New York All-City High School Choir, and he accompanied the choir on their concert tours around the United States and to Europe.
Early in the years of their friendship, Dr. Motley occasionally invited Richard to attend his church, Grace Congregational Church of Harlem.
During those church visits, even though he was born to a Jewish family, Richard heard and responded to Jesus' messages of faith, charity, and love.
Those messages of love persuaded Richard to be baptized and he became a member of Dr. Motley's church.
At Richard's funeral there in 1999, the crowded church was overflowing with his family, his friends, and his former students who joined together for the celebration of a wonderful life.
Despite the hardships of being what he was, Richard was a patriotic American and a dedicated Christian.
Any Americans who would not support the rights of other Americans to enjoy all the responsibilities and benefits of citizenship in the name of the flag or the Bible for reasons of sexual identity should think long and hard about the life of my father's beloved cousin, Richard Blankston.
They should be prepared to stand before Richard in heaven and me in this room and explain to Richard, to Jesus, and to me in loud clear voices where Richard went wrong simply for being as God made him.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? Representative Mantilla's not here, right? How about this? There's, I don't know, 40 or 50 additional people signed up. And about that many in the room.
If I could just ask you, I mean, in light of what's obvious here, that there are very few members of the Committee left and people are prepared to stay if necessary a little bit longer to hear more testimony.
I mean, are there people who have signed up who feel that they'd like to contribute something that really hasn't been said yet or feel an overriding need to contribute to the public record?
I mean, often what we find here, I mean, virtually, I understand, often what we find here is that there are, you know, it's very meaningful to tell each of our stories and, you know, I'm speaking on behalf of the members of the Committee.
I think many of us really have to pull ourselves back, we want to jump in all the time. But we do learn some very fascinating things and important considerations from the testimony we get.
So if I just don't have a sense, if we sort of threw it up as who really feels like they would like to participate, could I just get a general sense of how many would be in that category?
All right. Well, that seems manageable. And so why don't I just go from right to left from me. What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: He's next on the list.
REP. LAWLOR: Oh, he's next on the list. You're Evelyn Mantilla? Oh, Julio Morales. It's true. You are next, Mr. Morales. And then working from right to left. Ma'am if you could be prepared and we'll go, and then over to you guys.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [inaudible – microphone not on]
REP. LAWLOR: That's your prerogative. It's okay. And if you'd like to participate that's no problem. No problem at all.
For those of you who'd like to participate, maybe [inaudible] come down and sit in the front and we can get, when we get to your opportunity we'll get to that. I'm sorry. Mr. Morales, go ahead.
JULIO MORALES: Good evening, distinguished Legislators. I am Dr. Julio Morales and I have lived in Canton, Connecticut, for 27 years.
I am professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. On April 22, 2004, a group of Latinas and Latinos for marriage equality held a press conference to support equal rights for same-gender couples.
I was the primary organizer of that event and my goal was to get the support of 100 Latino leaders. That goal was surpassed, 135, 135 Latino and Latina leaders in 25 Connecticut cities and towns said yes to marriage equality and no to injustice.
A legislator, a member of the clergy, a director of a major social service organization, a director of a foundation, a newspaper columnist, an academic, and a government official, a Latinas and Latinos spoke at the press conference.
The leaders of diverse identities spoke as individuals who are American citizens living in Connecticut.
Marriage equality brings with it hundreds of legal protections and responsibilities that cannot be replicated in other ways.
Latinos and Latinas who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered contribute greatly to all of our society.
For example, Dr. Antonia Pantoja, who was honored for contributions to our country with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, was a lesbian. I was proud to have been to her unvalidated marriage to Dr. [inaudible].
We are doctors and we are nurses, police officers and firefighters, teachers and school administrators, car mechanics and factory workers, and indeed are found in every trade and profession.
I am proud to have created community and academic programs in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. I have written books and articles, initiated groundbreaking conferences and presided over numerous community based organizations.
On four occasions, the State of Connecticut has recognized my contributions to the state's [inaudible] citations. I have been named Father of the Year, Latino of the Year, Social Worker of the Year, and have had a leadership role in my profession.
Recently the UConn School of Social Work established a child welfare award in my honor. It is ironic for people to validate, honor, and [inaudible] contributions while denying me civil rights.
I raised two biological children and a foster son. They are outstanding parents and highly successful in their personal and professional lives.
They married loving people of the opposite sex. For me, marrying the same gender person was not an option.
Recently my daughter and her family, who live in Massachusetts, took care of my dog while I attended a wedding ceremony at the Cape.
Elena, one of my six grandchildren, who was four at the time said that her mother told her that people should marry people they love, sometimes women love and marry other women, and sometimes men love and marry other men.
Elena told her friends that her papa was going to a wedding of two women. She and her friends thought it was real cool.
I hope that we join in granting marriage equality to same-gender couples. I ask you, our Legislators, to make it happen.
I would like my grandchildren who live in Connecticut to think that Connecticut is at least as cool as Massachusetts. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? Thank you for your testimony. Why don't we start on the right and moving to the left. Just identify yourself for the record, please.
SARAH VERASCO: My name is Sarah Verasco and I'm an ordained clergywoman in the United Church of Christ, chair of the Connecticut Conference Open and Affirming Ministry Committee, and a resident of West Hartford.
Let me underscore that the United Church of Christ is the oldest and largest protestant denomination in Connecticut.
And even though the events and writings that have formed the foundation of our Christian identity reach back over 2,000 years, we believe that God is still speaking.
In fact, in October of this past year, the delegates to the 137th Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Conference voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution in support of the civil right of marriage for same-sex couples, noting that the denial of the civil right of marriage of same-sex couples is an unwarranted act of exclusion. Yes, God is still speaking.
And because of this history, tradition, and precedent can serve to inform our faith but cannot be used to define what is right or just for all time.
As a clergywoman it is my responsibility to diligently study and engage the documents of my faith tradition. These documents include holy scriptures found in the Bible, non-canonical texts, creeds, and statements of faith.
As far as marriage is concerned, these documents paint a clear picture of a social institution that has changed and evolved over time.
For instance, there was a time when married women were considered to be the property of their husbands, polygamy was common, and marriage between half-siblings was permissible.
Thankfully God continued to speak, as evidenced by the 548 voting delegates who passed the resolution in support of the civil right of marriage for same-sex couples, and marriage need not be confined to these antiquated practices.
As a Judiciary Committee you are required to diligently study and engage the Constitution of our state, a living document that continues to challenge our ability and willingness to grow into the ideal of equal rights for all persons.
There was a farmer who designated a portion of land for his cows with an electric fence. Curious about the effectiveness and cost of the fence, a neighbor approached the farmer and asked how the fence was working and how much it cost to run it.
Doesn't cost a thing, the farmer replied. As soon as the battery ran down I unhooked it and never put it back. That strand of fence wire is as dead as a piece of string, but the cows don't go within ten feet of it. They learned their lesson the first few days.
Historically there are many groups in our country who have been zapped and learned their lesson quickly that privilege, readily available to some people because of their social group membership, has taken precedent over rights, equal access regardless of social group membership.
The fence wire has remained in place even though the source of energy running through it has lost its power. A new consciousness is emerging, and any attempt to protect a dying definition will ultimately not succeed.
As a Judiciary Committee, I look to you today to resist the temptation to construct a new fence, regardless of the size of the designated land.
What the gay and lesbian community deserve already exist. It's called civil marriage. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Are there any questions? Thank you very much. Sir, in the blue shirt, I believe.
AMY PEAR: Thank you all for staying today. And I'd like to thank, my name is Amy Pear, I'm sorry. I'm a lieutenant with the Middletown Police Department here in Connecticut.
SEN. MCDONAD: I'm sorry, Lieutenant, could you please--
AMY PEAR: I was privileged enough to be allowed to come here by my chief in full uniform and I commend him for taking such a serious stance.
I've lived in Connecticut all my life, and I grew up in a family where both my parents were still together up until my mother's passing this December.
I was raised with very strong family values, and my partner of 12 years and I both continue those values in our home. We've chosen not to have children and that's a choice we've made. However, I still value our relationship as a family.
In August of 1996, my partner and I celebrated our lives together. We decided to invite approximately 70 of our friends to celebrate our commitment to one another.
As far as I'm concerned, we live as a married couple. The only problem is we don't get all the benefits that other couples get in this state. We chose to commit our lives to one another out of the love, not for government benefit.
I worry about how my life partner will be able to take care of all of our joint finances if something were to happen to me.
Some say that is a responsible attitude. Others say it's paranoia. If I do not worry about these aspects of my life, I would be neglecting the woman that I've committed my life to.
For me the possibility of not coming home one night after work is real. I'm a police officer, obviously, with the City of Middletown. I've been there for 15 years.
Being with a municipal department, I do not currently have any domestic partnership benefits.
After examining this area for about the last six months with my city, they have decided, actually this morning I got the news, that they will not be offering any domestic partnership benefits for city employees.
I'm also the Connecticut representative for GOAL New England, and I've been involved in that organization for approximately ten years.
I'm a certified instructor with the Police Officers Standard and Training Council, where I teach hate, bigotry, and bias.
I'm trying to just make this as quick as possible because I understand you've been here for a very long time.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you.
AMY PEAR: My life partner and I have drawn up what we feel are the appropriate legal documents that others have spoken of today.
So any time we travel, we travel with approximately eight notarized copies of various documents.
And again, unfortunately, if there was a bad car accident, we were in the hospital, or one of us were deceased because of a catastrophe, we would not be considered family.
Therefore, we would not be able to claim the remains of one another at a morgue. We would not be able to visit at a hospital without these additional documents because we're not considered family.
So what we've had to do is we've drawn up the documents and all we can hope is that a judge or an administrator of a hospital or somewhere would recognize them because we have taken that step.
I think the State of Connecticut has done a great job with some of the criminal aspects of recognizing same-sex couples. And I just think the next step is for civil recognition. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you, Lieutenant. And let me just say you do not only your own force and your chief a great credit, but you do it for the men and women who do serve in the state who don't have the luxury of having permission from their chief to be here today.
I happen to personally know several officers who don't have that privilege, so you're very fortunate to serve under your chief.
I do have to say, however, that if you want to come to the City of Stamford, we do provide those benefits to city employees. But thank you very much for your testimony. Are there other questions or comments? Representative Lawlor.
REP. LAWLOR: Can I just add, thank you very much for coming here tonight, Lieutenant. I know you and I know each other from before this and I know how active you are in the Gay Officers Action League in New England, goalne.org, right? They'll be happy we said that.
And you've done a great job advocating on behalf of gay and lesbian police officers and firefighters, corrections officers, etc. over the years, and this is just one more example of that. So thanks again for coming.
AMY PEAR: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Is there anybody else who feels that they need to testify? Ma'am. Just please identify yourself for the record.
MARY DIXON: My name is Mary Elizabeth Hager Dixon. I live in West Hartford. I come before you today as a Christian firmly committee to the faith of my birth, who has spent a lifetime constantly reviewing and examining that faith, my understanding, acceptance, and rejection of the various teachings and tenets of Christianity, as well as, though admittedly to a lesser degree, the teachings and tenets of other religions.
I have also held for many years certification as a history/social studies teacher at the secondary level. I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.
As all the most important issues in life, issues of the separation of church and state are not easy, nor clear cut. The devil is so often in the details.
I am sorry I was not able to be here earlier today for the full hearing, but I just returned late Saturday after being in Ohio since shortly after the first of the year with family.
My daughter had surgery and so it was a visit and it was grandmother responsibilities.
So I didn't sign up either on the support or oppose list for the legislation under consideration, and I didn't prepare a formal text for my remarks.
I think my position falls between support and opposition. I have felt for a long time that homosexual couples should have absolutely equality with heterosexual couples before the law.
I believe also that churches, synagogues, and other religious communities should reserve the right to sanctify or refrain from sanctifying the union between two people according to their faith's belief, tenets, and ecclesiastical law.
It is my position and strong belief that neither our state nor our nation should be in the business of conveying sanctity or religious blessing to anything.
I believe the term marriage should be stricken from all legal record and references as the Congregational Church was stricken as the established church in our state in 1827, I believe was the year, not certain, but pretty close in there.
I believe all couples, homosexual and heterosexual, should be referred to by a new term that wouldn't be, it would be emotionally neutral, a new term. Perhaps spousal contract, if that's not been used before.
And they should appear in a brief civil formality in a town or city hall and leave the term marriage exclusively to religious and personal use.
Very briefly to close, I believe all legal rights, privileges, and responsibilities of heterosexual couples should be accorded to homosexual couples as well.
I believe there is a respectful solution that guarantees equality before the law and respect for religious difference. Thank you very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thanks again. Who else would like to participate? Please proceed.
QUINTON JOHANSEN: My name is Quinton Johansen. Thank you for allowing me to speak. I'm a transsexual.
I'm one of those people that live in the gray area, between the definition of man and woman depending on which state, which country, how you define what is a man and what is a woman, whether you go by chromosomes, social presentation, or whatever.
In the State of Connecticut, I, who already have a male on my driver's license, I'm a female-to-male transsexual, am allowed to marry a woman.
In the State of Texas, at least in parts of it because they go by chromosomes, theoretically I could go down there and marry a man. Going through a chromosome test, and if he was an XY individual and I'm presumptively an XX individual.
In the State of Kansas I'm not allowed to marry anybody.
When it comes down particularly the opposition who are sitting there trying to sit there and say marriage is only between a man and a woman, it comes down to what do you mean by a man and a woman, because every time you draw the line you're going to leave somebody out.
The other thing I want to say, there was a lot of talk about also the one man, one woman. And from a historical standpoint it doesn't come anywhere from religious law.
The West adopted that definition from ancient Roman law, which insisted on one man and one woman. They also did not have a ceremony of any sort.
And the Catholic Church, which was the official church of the west until the Protestant Reformation, in fact did not get involved in the marriage business until quite late.
Marriage was not one of the original sacraments. It came along later because they considered marriage to be the business of the civil authorities. It wasn't the business of the church to be involved in the marriage business.
So, you know, to put a little historical context to that. I would also again, I'm going to throw out all the people who have sat there and tied marriage about procreation.
Our society today does not penalize childless couples, and yet under the same Roman Empire Augustus put into place civil laws that penalized childless couples.
So coupling, that strong coupling of marriage to the necessity of producing children is disingenuous and shouldn't have to be there.
Again, the church does allow sterile couples to get married, the Catholic Church does. There's no requirement that I know of in civil law that requires a couple to get married and you must have children or must have to do with children.
I was married, heterosexually married for close to 20 years. The last few years I actually had an M on my driver's license. My spouse and I are now separated. We're still very good friends.
But we continue to file jointly, both federally and at the state level, and the government never questioned anything even though we were filing in a separated sort of category. Technically we were still married.
So that's the other question I'm going to throw out as a final piece of testimony, is that Connecticut already, again going back to the transsexual issue, already has de facto same-gender marriages in this state.
They're mostly male-to-female transsexuals who have stayed married to their spouses. And in many instances probably if they have not changed jobs, anything else, they're very likely still filing jointly with both the federal and the state level.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Johansen. Are there any other questions? Thank you very much. And next. Please go ahead.
JUDITH KLAUSNER: Hi. My name is Judith Klausner. I'm a 19-year-old university student.
I was raised with a really strong belief in civil rights and equality for everyone. I was taught to believe that people are people, without regard to race or gender or religion or sexual orientation.
I was taught that separate was never equal. It never has been.
I was raised in a really loving family, believing that love was the most valuable thing in the world. And it's really important to me to be able to marry whomever I fall in love with.
This past summer, I was a camp counselor at a summer camp and one of my campers was an 11-year-old girl who has two moms.
And she loves them very much, and they love her very much. And she was so excited when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. And she saw this as one step closer to her moms being able to be seen as equal to everybody else's parents and her family being seen the same as everybody else's.
And I couldn't imagine how members of the legislative bodies could fail to see the necessity of this equalization if they had to look Samantha in the eye and tell her that her family wasn't equal to everybody else's, that her family wasn't just as good.
And it kills me to know that if anything happened to the mom that she's biologically related to, because only one of her moms actually carried her and her twin brother, that they could be taken away from their second parent who has raised them for their entire lives.
This is the parent that has been in their life and who has no legal, I mean, no legal status. And I think that that, there's something terribly, terribly wrong with that.
The rights of marriage are very important and denying them to same-sex couples is discrimination, plain and simple.
When I was a junior in high school I came out to my grandmother as bisexual, and she was worried that this was going to make my life a lot harder.
And about a year later we were at my cousin's wedding and the ceremony had just ended. And she turned to me with tears of joy in her eyes and she said I hope I can be here for yours, no matter what decisions you make.
And that was so amazing to me, and I really hope she can be. And I think she should be able to be.
My grandmother is an incredible and incredibly stubborn woman. And if she can see beyond what she's been used to for 85 years to see what's right, then I think the government can too.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. And it's been my experience, it seems like it's a common experience that [inaudible] changes when it's something that you love and know. It's just different.
REP. MCMAHON: I just want to thank you very much. You bring a different perspective and we are very thankful for it.
REP. LAWLOR: Other questions? If not, thanks again. Who's next. Go ahead.
BRIAN BROTHMAN: Hi. My name is Brian Brothman. I'm going to be really brief. I'm here because I go to school in Connecticut. I'm not originally from Connecticut. But I do co-host a radio show based out of Middletown. I just thought I'd bring that up.
Just wanted to address--
REP. LAWLOR: You can say the name of the show. It's okay. There's people watching all over the state. Go ahead, plug away.
BRIAN BROTHMAN: I just wanted to address some of the point that we--
REP. LAWLOR: Before you go, what's the station?
BRIAN BROTHMAN: Oh, the station is 88.1 FM, WESU.
REP. LAWLOR: And what's the name of the show?
BRIAN BROTHMAN: The show is Radio Undercurrents. It'll be on from 1:00 in the morning to 2:30 in the morning Tuesday morning, if you're up and you get, just thought I'd slip in a shameless promotion. It was pretty shameless.
I just wanted to start off by addressing some of the points that we've heard from the anti-gay rights, sorry, anti-marriage people.
They kept using the word sanctity and they've intrinsically linked their argument to the word sanctity. And I personally view this as, among other things, a tactical mistake on their part because sanctity is, first and foremost, a religious term.
So they have connected their argument, all of their arguments, to religion, and there is a separate of church and state.
And while they can moralize and personally, you know, want to uphold the sanctity of, you know, marriage based on, you know, heterosexual couples like the ones formed by Britney Spears, that the state cannot intervene.
There is a separation of church and state. You cannot enforce religious principles on anyone.
And if they're going to go with their religious argument, let's address some other things from religion.
The most common passage that condemns non-heterosexual relationships is found in Leviticus.
The same book Leviticus, the same chapter, the same page, in most translations, there's a phrase, and I will set my face upon those who go a horn after mullah.
And I challenge anyone who feels, who follows the Biblical arguments against gay marriage, if you can explain that passage to me, I'll go home.
Another passage from the Bible, I believe it's found in Deuteronomy, no man with crushed testicles or a shorn penis shall be entered into the kingdom of heaven.
Now if we're going to base laws on religion, what laws would you create from that passage?
I'm going to move on to my main point. It's the government's responsibility to protect the rights and privileges of its citizenry.
And when a guy who's devoted his entire life to someone for more than a decade is denied access to that person in a hospital room where that person might die, or a loving and supportive couple can't adopt a kid who needs love and support, and a loving and supportive couple can't adopt a kid who needs love and support, it's a dereliction of duty on the government's part. And I think it's criminal.
And just because it's systematic doesn't make it any less of a crime. Remember, the mafia wears expensive suits too and they sell drugs.
And also, I want to bring up 85% of my generation, I'm a younger American, support full marriage rights and considers the concept of civil union an insult.
So this decision has already been made. The generation after mine will already wonder why it took so long.
Voting against gay rights now will only succeed in making us go through the process again later, and it's expensive and time-consuming, as we've seen, so we'd appreciate the convenience of you doing it for us.
Also, really the only thing you'd succeed in in denying gay rights now is embarrassing yourselves in the annals of time and history, and no one wants that. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? You're off the hook. Oh, wait.
REP. MCMAHON: Once again I just want to say, you know, you have brought an entirely new perspective that we thank you for.
REP. LAWLOR: That's it. You're all set.
BRIAN BROTHMAN: 88.1, 1:00 to 2:30 in the morning Tuesdays.
REP. LAWLOR: Please, Sir, go ahead.
JOHN SHOAF: Hi. My name is John Shoaf. I'm actually from Pittsburgh originally and moved here to Connecticut.
While I was in Pittsburgh I was married and I was married for six years. And even though I knew I was gay, I went through all of the passages. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I was born and raised to have that 2.3 kids. And it didn't happen.
My wife and I knew there were problems, and I guess maybe if you follow the way people talk, I guess one day I woke up and said, wow, I'm gay. And I saw the light, so to speak.
You talk about now for me to go back and get rights the same as I had before, I now have to be untrue to myself and go back to being straight or acting straight to get that same rights.
I don't feel I should betray myself or anybody else or my partners.
Now the other question is, you're talking about what rights are coming through, I have some friends that are, one's from England and one lives here in Connecticut.
Now she's here working as a consultant with a visa, but if she was a, if it was a straight partner, her partner coming over would have gotten a green card right away and would have gone through immigrations.
The opposite is already in effect. If they would move back to England, they would automatically get a green card, are welcomed in England as a couple, even as a gay couple.
We don't have that here. Where is the equality at? Why should we have to, everybody keeps saying, well, you can file papers, you can do this, you can go to the legal, make contracts. Why should we?
I have one question to ask. If you take religion out of the quotient, can you answer me why gay people cannot get married? Take religion out of the quotient, give me a reason why gay people should not get married. It's all about love.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? Thanks again, Sir. Anyone else care to participate? Please go ahead.
MARCELLA MCDONALD: Thank you for staying. I stayed too. My name is Marcella McDonald and I'm proud to be from Connecticut.
I was the first Connecticut woman to swim the English Channel in 1994, and the first American woman to do a double crossing of the Channel in 2001. And at this time, I have the most crossings for any American woman.
I grew up in Manchester and I graduated from MHS in 1981. I am a podiatrist, a swim coach, a daughter, an aunt, and I happen to be a lesbian.
With my loving partner, Janet Galia, we own a home in Andover. Janet works for the postal service and I practice in Manchester.
This past summer, I am proud to tell you, with my most recent double crossing the Channel, I helped raise over $200,000 for the Bridgeport Base St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, a foundation that helps families and victims with cancer.
I was saddened but not surprised to hear the Governor's view on the matter of equality for same-sex couples to join the ranks of the married.
The whole day today I really heard a lot of voices of hate disguised as conservatism. I think a lot of people use that as an excuse.
I do hear the prejudiced views out in the public. Some say this is the end of civilization, and I did hear that in my practice.
According to the Governor's statement why would anybody get married, is it only the right to go to the hospital when a loved one is sick or just to adopt children. I'm pretty sure the answer is no.
Most of the time it's because two people would like to proclaim their love for each other in public, to let the courts know that they are dedicated to each other, respect each other, and would like to be known as one family unit.
It's pretty easy for a couple as long as they're consenting heterosexual adults to go to the courthouse and get a marriage license.
Janet and I have been through many personal triumphs and crises for ten years. It's not very easy to be on a boat and watch your loved on go through the pain and suffering that a channel can put you through.
She's more than a friend and I would love to introduce her as my spouse. We are not asking to be married in the church. I know where I'm not welcome. We are asking for a civil marriage.
I hope if someone close to you confides that they are homosexual you will see them as a human being, which I already know that many of you already do that, only wanting to share their love with another person.
I am taking a big risk coming here to speak to you. Many of my patients don't know who I am. I may lose some patients that are homophobic and prejudiced.
I try to keep my private life private, but this issue is very important. I hope they will still see me as the person I am and that they used to know and were so proud of calling me their Channel swimmer.
If they don't, I won't be surprised. I have lost some friends to this decision to love Janet. I pray their hearts will soften and learn to accept different people.
I really think it's all that simple. It's two people wanting to share their lives together and put it on paper. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? How long does it take to swim across the English Channel?
MARCELLA MCDONALD: Average, 10 to 12 hours one way.
REP. LAWLOR: There you go. So this was easy then, right, see.
MARCELLA MCDONALD: No, this was harder than that. My legs were shaking.
REP. LAWLOR: Anyone else care to participate? Please, go ahead, Ma'am.
MARGARET CAMERON: Hi. My name is Margaret Cameron. I'm from Southington. And I was married for 29 years before my husband passed away, so I'm a widow.
I have five live children who are grown adults now and one that died when he was only nine weeks old.
I listened, I came from work because I wanted to hear. I've never been to a meeting like this before. And I feel that it's something very, very crucial and important for all our lives, for the State of Connecticut, and for its citizens.
My background, I am not for homosexual marriage. I don't believe in it. I feel it's wrong.
But I understand there are many people here who are very fine people who are, you know, have, it's a very difficult thing to legislate for or against this.
But I have to go by scripture. I have to go by God's word, and we know that, you know, Saddam and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality. We know that it's listed as an abomination before God.
And like I said, it's a very big thing that you are deciding for the fate of our state. And I do pray for you that you will see God's will because he is ultimate and that he is the total ruler of everything.
And I hope that you can do what is right according to him. You know, he loves everybody here. There's not a soul that he doesn't love. But he does love all of us and we're all sinners.
But he loves the sinner but not the sin. And I think that we have to separate certain things and we can't change the good things of God for some people who want changes.
It's a very difficult thing that you are faced with, but I do hope and pray that you will seek God and what is right. And that's my prayer for you.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, thank you, Mrs. Cameron. Are there questions? If not, thanks again. Is there anyone else who'd like to participate?
SANDRA TULLIUS: Good evening, Representative Lawlor. My name is Sandra Tullius. I'm a Senior Assistant State's Attorney for the State of Connecticut. I represent the Division of Criminal Justice for the Hartford Judicial District.
REP. LAWLOR: Sit down--
SANDRA TULLIUS: Sorry. I'm used to addressing people standing. I'm here, my partner of ten years is also a police officer for the City of New Haven. Jo has spent most of the day here watching but she had to go home. She's on the midnight shift so she's home taking a nap prior to going to work.
I sat and listened to Lieutenant Pear who's a good friend of mine and I share her concerns. We do not have the benefits as well for sharing. We don't need them. We both have good benefits of our own.
But I know that having attended recently the funeral of a police officer, I wonder whether our relationship would ever be given the emotion, the outpouring, the caring of the general public if my partner were killed in the line of duty.
I spend every day protecting and defending the laws of the State of Connecticut. I wish that the laws of the State of Connecticut protected and defended me. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? If not, thanks. Anyone else like to participate?
Well, if not, let me just thank you all for your patience today. I'm sure, like most of us, you've learned a great deal listening to the different testimony pro and con.
And in the next few weeks we hope we'll be able to take action on this initiative. I'm sorry? Oh, sure. Come on.
GANNON LONG: Thank you. I appreciate this.
REP. LAWLOR: Even though I'm a Giants fan I'm going to let you continue.
GANNON LONG: Well, this is my lucky shirt so I had to wear it today. My name is Gannon Long. I have lived in Hartford all my life.
I'm very proud to be from Connecticut, especially I think given the historic chance that you and the Connecticut Legislature have to enact civil rights, equal rights for everybody who lives in the state.
I heard a lot of talk today about where, you know, where sexuality comes from, and if people are born with their sexuality or if it develops. And I personally think that that really depends.
I mean, I think that there are people who are born gay or born straight. I think that there are people who are just kind of grow up in that environment.
I personally am bisexual, and I wonder sometimes if I was born that way or if my parents, who have a very egalitarian marriage and who really value equal rights between the genders, if that environment contributed at all to who I am today.
I guess what my point is in bringing this up is that it really shouldn't matter if sexuality is a choice or if it's something that one is born with. Equal rights should be equal rights. They shouldn't depend on the circumstance.
When I was in, I just graduated from college last year and I used to work in Chicago in an elementary school. And there was, one of my favorite students in the kindergarten class that I was in was telling me who her friends in the class were.
And she said when I grow up I want to marry Zane, who was another boy in the class. And then she looked at me and thought, or maybe Natalie.
And I thought, I said, and then I said, oh, okay. And she said but I'm not sure if I can marry Natalie because she's a girl. And I said, well, some people do that, you know.
I got home and I told my roommate about the story, or I told my roommate this story, and she [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 5A to Tape 5B.]
--and I think that this was something that I don't see how tolerance or, again, equal rights should be something that people get offended by.
As the woman who just spoke said, a lot of this conversation about protecting the sanctity of marriage or all of these terms are really masked bigotry.
And to fall into the trap of believing these terms for what they seem to be is falling into the trap of being a bigot. And voting against marriage equality doesn't make you a bad person, but it makes you a bigot against the LGBT community.
And I think that that's something that all of you have the power to decide, but I think you should take that into consideration when thinking about it. And I hope that you do end up voting for marriage equality.
And just one more thing that I want to say is that right now in the world there's a big struggle in trying to advance human rights and trying to advance freedom in every arena that we can.
And this is our arena. This is our chance to do that. And I think we need to take full advantage of the opportunity to spread freedom here in Connecticut. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? If not, thanks.
GANNON LONG: Thanks very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Well, I think that probably does it. So thanks again for your patience. We'll hopefully be able to take action on these bills in the next few weeks or so. And I'll call the public hearing to a close.
[Whereupon, the hearing was adjourned.]