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Thread: Connecticut to issue same-sex marriage licenses

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    Elite Member NicoleWasHere's Avatar
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    Exclamation Connecticut to issue same-sex marriage licenses

    Same-Sex Couples Can Obtain Marriage Licenses Today

    By DANIELA ALTIMARI | The Hartford Courant November 12, 2008 Connecticut begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today, a historic milestone that gays and lesbians will celebrate and social conservatives will grieve.

    Many others are likely to respond with a shrug.

    "They could do what they want to do," said Karen Dowdell, a 61-year-old Hartford resident who was shopping at Corbins Corner in West Hartford Tuesday morning. "I could care less."

    "I don't think it's a big deal," said Robert San Angelo, 57, of Naugatuck. He supports same-sex marriage, but when asked if it is a significant issue, he shook his head and said, "I think the economy is a lot more important."

    Experts who track public attitudes toward gays and lesbians say such low-key reactions aren't surprising in this small, liberal state. Citizens here have long displayed a distaste for the culture wars that have riven so much of the nation, as evidenced by the fierce and costly fight over same-sex marriage that just concluded in California.

    "A lot of Americans, particularly in a state like Connecticut, are getting more and more used to the idea," said Patrick J. Egan, assistant professor of politics at New York University.

    Besides, he added, "everyone's attention is focused on bread and butter issues, like, 'How's my 401(k)?' These controversial decisions get lost in the fray."

    Same-sex marriage comes to Connecticut more than four years after it arrived in Massachusetts. Those first-in-the-nation gay weddings were met with a burst of hoopla. Reporters from as far as Japan came to cover the story, the "Today" show broadcast from Boston's City Hall Plaza and there were scattered protests amid the celebrations, according to accounts in the Boston Globe.

    Contrast that to Connecticut, where the gay rights coalition Love Makes a Family has received a smattering of calls from international media, "but nothing compared to what they received in Mass.," said Anne Stanback, the group's president.

    Gay rights proponents began laying the groundwork for same-sex marriage in Connecticut about a decade ago. They built coalitions with non-gay activists and celebrated a series of incremental wins — notably the legislature's vote legalizing civil unions in 2005 — that allowed the public to gradually get used to the idea of same-sex partnerships.

    Unlike the heated political battles that erupted in the Bay State, Connecticut's march toward marriage has been remarkably calm.

    "It's always harder to be the first state," observed Mary Bernstein, associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut.

    Now, "at least in New England, it's becoming ... old hat," Stanback said. In fact, she added, for most people in Connecticut, same-sex marriage is "a big yawn."

    Not so elsewhere: 30 states now have bans on same-sex marriage enshrined in their constitutions.

    For national gay rights activists, the victory in Connecticut was largely overshadowed by stinging Election Day losses in other parts of the nation. Voters in California, Arizona and Florida approved constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage. The outcome in California, where about 17,000 gay and lesbian weddings have taken place since June, was particularly devastating for supporters of same-sex marriage.

    In many states, backing same-sex marriage is a politically risky move. But not here, said Rep. Michael Lawlor, a Democrat from East Haven and a leading proponent of gay rights. He said his constituents seldom broach the topic; the matter didn't even come up in his last two re-election campaigns.

    "It's an interesting issue, fascinating from a political science point of view, but it's not near the top of anyone's list ... it's just not that big a deal," Lawlor said.

    "[Today] will come and go, and I think what kind of puppy Barack Obama will get will be a much bigger topic of conversation in Connecticut than the fact that several dozen couples will get married," Lawlor said.

    Polls show that a majority of the state's residents approve of the court's same-sex marriage ruling. Liz Radl, 24, of Bristol, counts herself among them. She has friends who are gay and said she is thrilled that they will now be treated equally under the law. But, she added, "Unless you come into contact with that part of our culture, you probably don't think about it much."

    Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, disputed the notion that state residents don't care about same-sex marriage, saying the group was flooded with calls the day the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its ruling. Wolfgang also was heartened that most of the institute's endorsed candidates were victorious in the legislative election.

    Wolfgang said that when the issue is brought directly to voters, even in blue states such as California and Oregon, gay marriage often loses. "Every state that has had a chance to vote on this has voted the right way," he said.

    Still, Wolfgang acknowledged that voters during the last two legislative election cycles appeared to be preoccupied with other issues. "In 2006, it was the Iraq war; in 2008, it was the economy," he said. "These are the issues that are much more on voters' minds."

    Wolfgang compared the plight of groups such as the Family Institute, which favor a traditional definition of marriage, to the anti-abortion movement after Roe v. Wade. "We will work for the day when marriage as between a man and a woman will be protected and restored in Connecticut," he said. "In the meantime, we will work to limit the damage."

    >> At same-sex weddings, expect tradition to rule.


    Same-Sex Couples Can Obtain Marriage Licenses Today -- Courant.com

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    This will help the economy. Lots of weddings,lots of cash! Florists,bakers,clothes stores,etc.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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