The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision recognizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states “affirms what a majority of Americans already know, which is that marriage is about love,” Anne Stanback, who led Connecticut’s fight for marriage equality, said Friday.
Before the decision, same-sex couples could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Friday’s 5-4 decision will allow same-sex couples in the 14 remaining states, clustered in the south and midwest, to get married. After the decision was announced, supporters quickly planned a rally at the Old State House in Hartford to celebrate.
In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the same-sex couples seeking to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond.”
The decision was released on the anniversary of two other significant gay rights decisions. Just two years ago, the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and on June 26, 2003, it ruled that a Texas law making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in intimate sexual conduct was unconstitutional.
Kennedy wrote in Friday’s decision that nothing in it would require religious leaders to perform same-sex weddings if they object to doing so.
Stanback said no church would have to recognize those marriages because “we have the First Amendment.” She anticipated that opponents would disagree with that perspective and that’s like where the fight will move next.
She said it will be about finding a balance between religious liberty and the right to have same-sex marriage respected under the law.
“This is a momentous victory and will have impact on a range of other issues,” Stanback said.
The fight for equality is not over. There are still 28 states where LGBT people can lose their jobs or housing or be denied service in a restaurant “simply because of who they are,” Stanback said.
“There is still a lot of work to do beyond marriage,” Stanback added. “Here in Connecticut we have a lot of work to do to live up to the laws we have on the books.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the decision marks “a transformative moment in our nation’s history, but it builds on everything before. Our gratitude goes to all whose courage and strength and struggle won this day.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy also applauded the decision.
“While the State of Connecticut has recognized marriage for same-sex couples since 2008, today’s ruling means that our residents cannot lose their marriage rights while traveling from state to state. In short, couples will get the equality under the law that they rightfully deserve,” Malloy said in a statement.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who is Connecticut’s first openly gay constitutional officer, said the ruling provides him with “personal relief that — no matter where I travel across this great nation of ours — my marriage will be recognized.”
He added: “This victory follows years of determination, effort and countless hours of legal work. I’m grateful for those whose shoulders we stand on today. This is the just and right decision.”
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, and her wife, Tracey Wilson, were the first gay couple to marry in Connecticut after the state Supreme Court certified its 4-3 decision on Nov. 12, 2008.
She said for the people who have been working on this issue for 30 years, it’s been too long.
“For someone who wants to get married to the person they love to wait a day, it’s too long,” Bye said.
But “any movement that has love at the center is a movement that’s going to make progress,” Bye added.
She said she’s excited that her marriage and her family will be recognized wherever they travel in America.
“This is a huge step for human rights and why I’m so proud Connecticut was one of the leaders,” she said.
There will be a rally at 5 p.m. at the Old State House in Hartford to celebrate the decision.