Connecticut Legislature Codifies Marriage Equality, Grants Religious Exemptions

Yesterday both chambers of the Connecticut legislature overwhelming approved a bill codifying the approval of same-sex marriage by the state Supreme Court (in other words, creating the legal codes to support the ruling.)

Although the bill passed easily, there were three hours of “heated debate” as Christianist groups like the Family Institute of Connecticut tried to insert a “conscientious objector” amendment which would have allowed any business to deny services to a gay wedding party.

Lawmakers endorsed an amendment that allows religious organizations, associations and societies to effectively opt out of the requirements of the law. That means that a group such as the Knights of Columbus would not be required to rent out its function halls for same-sex wedding receptions. Nor would a Catholic priest be obligated to preside over such a union. But both the House and Senate emphatically rejected expanding that circle of exemptions to include individuals and businesses such as florists and justices of the peace. To do so, they said, would be akin to enshrining discrimination in state statute.

When all was done, this is how one legislator summed up the day: “This is probably the last time these issues will ever be discussed in the state legislature.”