October 10, 2008

Bristol's reaction to gay marriage ruling is mixed

Bristol’s reaction to the legalization of gay marriage by the Connecticut Supreme Court Friday ranged from delight to disappointment.

The 4-3 decision to make Connecticut the third state to allow same sex marriage throws aside the civil union compromise that Gov. Jodi Rell and the legislature agreed on several years ago and opens the door for thousands of gay couples to marry.

“It’s the law now and I don’t have any choice except to abide by it,” said state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who has represented the 31st District since 1992.

Colapietro said he “never voted for” gay marriage because “neither my heart nor my stomach would let me vote for marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman.”

But, he said, now that court has ruled, he agrees with Gov. Jodi Rell that there’s no alternative except to honor the decision.

“Their decision is final. We live in a democracy and that’s how they’ve ruled,” said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat from the 79th District who has always opposed gay marriage.

Nicastro said that given the narrow margin of the state Supreme Court ruling, there are clearly “still a lot of questions” and some “very strong concern” surrounding the issue of gay marriage.

State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican from the 78th District, said he believes an issue such as gay marriage should be dealt with by the legislature or by referendum.

“It goes to the heart of our social fabric,” Hamzy said.

He said that lawmakers have twice in recent years approved measures that show they believe in the traditional definition of marriage, when they backed same sex adoption and civil unions.

“It’s unfortunate that four judges overruled a majority of the legislature,” Hamzy said.

With the ruling, he said, there’s sure to be a push for passage of a ballot question about whether to hold a constitutional convention that could perhaps overturn the court’s decision.

“That issue will be a lot more prominent” in the weeks remaining before the Nov. 4 election, Hamzy said.

He said he supports holding a convention, which can take up whatever issues it wants, in part because he would like to see it adopt language that would strengthen the state spending cap.

Republican state House contender Jill Fitzgerald said she has a gay brother who’s been in “a long, monogamous relationship” and a gay cousin in Hollywood who’s already gotten married.

 “Having gay family members who are dear to me has caused me to be very thoughtful about” the gay marriage issue, she said. “It is a difficult situation. It really is.”

Fitzgerald, who is running for an open seat in the 77th District in northeastern Bristol, said there is a “cultural perception of marriage is that it is between a man and a woman” that tradition ought to be honored. Four judges shouldn’t be able “to make a decision for the entire population,” she said

She said the court’s ruling is “not a very sensitive way” to handle a culturally charged issue that will likely be resolved in a decade or two by shifting attitudes.

“It just makes people angry with one another” to have a battle arise over whether to extend marriage to gay men and women now, Fitzgerald said.

Chris Wright, a Democrat who is also running in the 77th District, said he supports the court’s decision.

“Basically, I’m kind of a libertarian at heart,” he said. “I believe that people should be able to live their lives without a lot of government interference.”

Wright said he doesn’t feel comfortable having the government tell people whom they can have relations with.

“I’m just a basic believer in freedom,” Wright said.

He also took issue with the GOP’s tendency to oppose gay rights.

“A lot of Republicans talk about smaller government. They want government that’s just small enough to get into your bedroom,” Wright said.

Fitzgerald said she would have preferred that the issue “have gone out to the citizens of Connecticut to vote on before a ruling was made.”

Laura Minor, a justice of the peace in Bristol, said the ruling is “absolutely incredible. I’m delighted.”

Minor said that she has performed many marriages and a number of civil unions.

“The love between all of the couples – when I see the love they have for each other and the look in each others’ eyes – is exactly the same” whether the couple is straight or gay, Minor said.

“This is a basic issue of justice,” Minor said.

She said that religions should be able to decide who can marry within their faiths based on their own traditions and beliefs.

But government has an obligation to recognize marriage as a civil right for everyone “without discrimination.”

Civil unions are “only partway there,” she said.

Minor said she can’t wait to perform her first gay marriage.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

“A lot of Republicans talk about smaller government. They want government that’s just small enough to get into your bedroom,” Wright said.

--This is a stupid, ignorant statement by a partisan, twisted jerk. It's not about what people do in their bedrooms (Wright), it's about what they do in front of our children and what they do to our society.

--This is a total abomination of the act of "marriage" and of the will of the people. Why not just have the liberals on the CT Supreme Court judge the qualifications of our leaders as well?

---And if you're such a 'Libertarian" Wright, you must agree totally with the right to bear arms, the reduction of government, and you must agree with free trade. But you don't because what you really are is a radical liberal socialist and in my opinion a fool as well. There is not one politican in the history of the Bristol Democrats that I feel is as unfit to represent us in the Legislature as you Chris Wright.

Anonymous said...

Wright is wrong again. The GOP does not want to be in anyone's bedroom. Most Republicans realize and value what traditional marriage is, and it is between a man and a woman. Leave well enough alone. The same-sex "marriage" promoters just don't have the same values; they want to throw open those bedroom doors and make us all watch. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

It drives me crazy that this is even getting this much press. I can't believe I am agreeing with Chris Wright, but I consider this a nonissue. With everything that is goiing on, for us to spend this much time worrying about this is ridiculous. Just let people lead their own lives and but out. "turning you stomach"?!?! Whatever Colapietro - I guess the closemindedness can't just be lumped on the GOP.

Anonymous said...

I consider this more important than our fiscal woes.

Anonymous said...

Bill I totaly agree with you. This should be put to a vote. 7 Judges should not be allowed to make this decision. The voters of Connecticut should make this decision.

Anonymous said...

8:29pm - so everytime that you disagree with a decision, it should go to a public vote? What about if someone disagrees with a decision that you favor or doesn't that count?
What a wimp.

Anonymous said...

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Constitutional convention .....

Repair the damage to Connecticut inflicted upon it's citizens by the FOUR liberal judges .

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed at how many people are upset by this. Against gay marriage? Then don't have one. But don't feel that you can dictate to others how they live their lives. This will have no impact on anyone except couples involved in a homosexual relationship. This allows for the EQUALITY of people. 40 years ago, the country went through the same thing in terms of an interracial marriage. Sometimes, the rights of the minority are more important than the will of the majority.

cseguin said...

I haven't gotten around to reading the full opinion and dissents because of law school and work commitments. But, I wanted to make a couple of preliminary comments.

From what I have read, it's interesting that they have pegged the classification as "quasi-suspect." That essentially puts sexual classifications on the same level as gender-based classifications; the government would have to show that the classification serves an important state interest, and that the measure is substantially related to that interest. It's not quite putting it on the same level of racial or religious discrimination, but it's still placing it at a fairly high level.

The only dissent I read was former-Justice Borden's; it's a fairly intriguing take on the whole thing. He agrees that there is an equal protection argument to be made by the 8 couples, but he disagrees with the starting point that civil unions are an inferior status classification. As with all of Justice Borden's opinions, it's a scholarly and convincing argument. Agree or disagree, he's quite brilliant.

I may repost when I've read the rest, but overall it looks like both sides presented rational and compelling arguments. It should be interesting to see the commentary on both sides.

It should also be noted that the court that decided this case is not the state Supreme Court as it is currently comprised. Chief Justice Rogers recused herself from the decision, and Justice Schaller did not take part (I don't believe he was on the court when it was argued originally).

Does anyone know why Chief Justice Rogers recused herself? I thought maybe she was on the Appellate Court that heard the first appellate argument.

Anonymous said...

Ypu are a nobody who's not a resident of this city. I have never heard of you, nor could I care less about your opinion on anything. Why do you post here so often? Go away.

cseguin said...

@ 12:06 pm

I post so often for a few reasons. I grew up in the city and lived there the first 18 years of my life (plus my first summer after college). Most of my family still lives and works in Bristol. Thus, I care about what's going on in the city, and how state affairs are affecting things in Bristol.

Also, I think what Steve is doing in maintaining this blog is a great service to the city's citizens. I like to support that by sharing my thoughts on what he posts.

I'm not surprised you've never heard of me; I'm not anyone famous, just a regular CT resident. You're entitled to not "care less" about my opinion; you can certainly ignore my posts if you wish. However, when I see a topic of great interest, and I think I have something to add to the discussion, I'll continue to post my thoughts.

This issue is interesting me in a number of ways, not the least of which is that I'm studying law, and always interested to see how judges reach certain decisions. I was simply sharing my thoughts on the court's ruling.

Anonymous said...

I am not against gay marriages. Lura Minor said she was very happy about it. She said she does several weddings when she does ALL these weddings does she pay taxes on them?

Anonymous said...

who cares we all have more to worry about these days. to each his own they are human beings just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

12:21 - laura only does these weddings because it is the right thing to do - yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

How the hell did this article turn into a free advertisment for Laura Minor, JP?

I've done far more Civil Ceremonies than she has I'm CERTAIN of that! And no one asked me for my opinion on the matter.

Oh wait, I have to issue a press release as if I'm someone other people wait to hear from.

Steve Collins said...

I called Laura Minor because, as far as I know, she was the only JP in Bristol who testified on the gay marriage in Hartford last year, whether pro or con.
The only other Bristol person I could find who testified as a pastor who couldn't be reached Friday because he's on sabbatical.
It's not like I have a list somewhere of which JPs are busiest or how many civil unions they've performed. I can only go by what I can find on deadline.

Anonymous said...

3:23 - so what is your opinion stupid?

Anonymous said...

Laura isn't trying to make money on this. She's an ultra-liberal crusader who is for gay marriage and gay adoption. She sees no societal difference in a relationship between two men and men/women. Obviously she thinks two men who sodomize each other for sexual satisfaction as viable candidates for parenthood and as the basis for a normal family. I disagree, but she is entitled to her opinion and so are the liberal activists on the CT Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone ask a faceless wonder ? 3:23 Duh !!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

12:43 Boy are you niave ! You want us to believe you went to college ? I guess you didn't learn much about being a lawyer then. Read your own writing.

Anonymous said...

Vote yes to the convention question!!!