Connecticut moved closer to allowing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples over the protests of gay rights advocates who believe the state should instead legalize same-sex marriage. The Judiciary Committee voted 25-13 in favor of legislation that would create a civil union system. The bill would give gay and lesbian couples many of the same state rights as married heterosexuals, but would not allow them to get a marriage license.
Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, said she was impressed that so many legislators have changed their minds over the years about rights for gay and lesbian couples. However, she said her organization is opposing the civil rights legislation. “We believe civil unions would write second class citizenship into our law,” Stanback said. “We feel that would be a step backward for Connecticut.”
Opponents of same-sex marriage said they are just as concerned about civil unions. “My fear is that people will see this as a compromise and clearly it is not a compromise. This is same-sex marriage by another name,” said Marie Hilliard, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
The bill still needs approval from the full legislature and the signature of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has not said what she will do. If it does become law, Connecticut would be the first state to voluntarily create a civil union system. Vermont is the only state to have civil unions, but that system resulted from a court decision.
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