HARTFORD, Conn. – A sharply divided Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay couples have the right to get married, saying legislators did not go far enough when they approved same-sex civil unions that were identical to marriages in virtually every respect except the name.
The 4-3 ruling will make Connecticut the third state, behind Massachusetts and California, to allow same-sex marriages, decisions that in all cases were made by the highest state court. The decision marks the first time that a court rejected civil unions as an alternative to granting gay couples the right to marry.
Californians will vote next month on a ballot measure that would reinstate the gay-marriage ban, but Connecticut’s governor and attorney general said there is little chance of a similar challenge to Friday’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court has spoken,” said Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage. “I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision – either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not meet with success.”
Same-sex weddings are expected to begin in Connecticut in less than a month. Out-of-staters will be eligible, but few other states are likely to recognize the unions.
In the majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote that denying marriage to same-sex couples would create separate standards.
The ruling cannot be appealed to federal courts because it deals with state constitutional issues, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.