Details on CT Ruling

Here is the .pdf of the CT Supreme Court decision, which includes this remarkable language:

Although we acknowledge that many legislators and many of their constituents hold strong personal convictions with respect to preserving the traditional concept of marriage as a heterosexual institution, such beliefs, no matter how deeply held, do not constitute the exceedingly persuasive justification required to sustain a statute that discriminates on the basis of a quasi-suspect classification. “That civil marriage has traditionally excluded same-sex couples, i.e., that the ‘historic and cultural understanding of marriage’ has been between a man and a woman’ cannot in itself provide a [sufficient] basis for the challenged exclusion. To say that the discrimination is ‘traditional’ is to say only that the discrimination has existed for a long time. A classification, however, cannot be maintained merely ‘for its own sake’ [Romer v.Evans, supra, 517 U.S. 635].

Instead, the classification ([that is], the exclusion of gay [persons] from civil
marriage) must advance a state interest that is separate from the classification itself [see id., 633, 635]. Because the ‘tradition’ of excluding gay [persons] from civil marriage is no different from the classification itself, the exclusion cannot be justified on the basis of ‘history.’ Indeed, the justification of ‘tradition’ does not explain the classification; it merely repeats it. Simply put, a history or tradition of discrimination – no matter how entrenched – does not make the discrimination constitutional.”

The boldface is mine. Stunning. The ruling also clarified that civil union is not the same.

5 Replies to “Details on CT Ruling”

  1. This makes a very interesting contrast with the California Supreme Court ruling this summer, which focused on “strict scrutiny” — i.e., that any discriminatory law is only constitutional (under California’s equal protection clause) if there is a demonstrated, compelling state interest that makes such discrimination *necessary* (their emphasis).

    Both of these rulings form very important legal precedents for challenging and overturning a wide range of laws discriminating based on sex or sexual orientation.

  2. I think the surprise social conservatives might have if this gets to the US Supreme Court is the fact that this is not completely an “activist” argument but an arguably constructionist one.

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