Bil Browning

How will Connecticut affect California, Florida and Arizona's amendment battles?

Filed By Bil Browning | October 10, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, gay marriage, marriage amendment, same-sex marriage

Today's Connecticut Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is a major boost to California, Florida and Arizona's battle to defeat "marriage" amendments. Expect to see a push from LGBT and allied advocacy groups touting the decision to push the message that the tide has turned on gay marriage.

Most importantly, Connecticut joined California in their "suspect class" designation for sexual orientation. As more and more courts find that we are a recognized group like African-Americans, Catholics and women, we'll see so-called "marriage protection amendments" fall to the wayside.

Some might argue that today's ruling will spook voters into approving their state's amendment, but today's political climate is vastly different from 2004. As American's clamor for change - an improved standing in the world, a new economy, and a rejection of torture and warmongering - one of the benefits will be increased acceptance of LGBT rights. Voters in California, Florida and Arizona are much more likely to spurn discriminatory governmental intrusions into family life since another state court has found in our favor.

Now, what will Iowa's courts decide? After winning marriage equality in an Iowa trial court, the Iowa Supreme Court decision will hear oral arguments on December 9. I predict another win. What about you?

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I think you just maybe a little nieve when it comes to the strength and resolve of the opposition. They are like starving vampires and the CT decision is like flinging open the doors to a Red Cross blood bank for their pleasure. It will become the hottest topic on the web sites of the Religious Right nut jobs and their brain-dead minions will take money out of their savings to fight CA, AZ and FL that much harder. This is the best thing they could have hoped for in increasing the scare tatics in the other states. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 10, 2008 4:48 PM

Unfortunately I have to concur with Monica. While we need to give all the support we can muster to our allies in Arizona, California, and Florida, we need to be prepared especially for a reversal of the California Supreme Court's decision. If that were to happen, though, it would not itself destroy the entire fabric of that decision's rationale. For example, the fact that distinctions based on sexual orientation are to be judged on a "strict scrutiny" rather than just a "rational basis" test will remain in all other areas save the definition of marriage itself. And especially if the vote is close, it is not outside the realm of possibiliy that another initiative could succeed in undoing Proposition 8 as in a few years and demographics and attitudes continue to change.

As to how Iowa will come out, my guess is that because its own Constitution's equal protection clause is pretty much the same as other states which have used a rational basis test to uphold laws banning same-sex marriage, its court will not follow California and now Connecticut.

I'm with Monica on this one - as good as this news is, I was thinking that the CT court should have waited until after the election. I think their reasoning is great and I'm glad that they concurred with the CA court. But timing is everything in politics. And unfortunately, our courts have become just as politicized as our legislatures.


I love your optimism so I'm referencing you piece on my blog.


Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 10, 2008 5:44 PM

My first thought on hearing about the CT decision via Twitter was what does this mean for the Obama campaign. Because you know that the McCain campaign is preparing negative attacks to blame this on Barack.

My thinking now is this is an amazing decision that should be celebrated. Yeah, it may make things harder for our side to win in AZ, CA and FL and it may make things a little harder for the Obama campaign, but we always knew that winning these fights would be tough.

We don't get to choose when or how civil rights advances are made. We continue to push from a variety of angles using smart and focused strategies. We take advantage of the opportunities that come our way and keep pushing.

Let's celebrate this victory and hunker down for the fights heading into Election Day.

Yay, good for Cn, but bad for the rest of us. As others have said, this is going to mobilize the wacko religio facists and provide them with an emotional argument that they can throw to the brain dead masses who will rouse themselves from their stupor and head out to vote to "Save" the sancitity of marriage from the homos.

Yeah tax breaks, social security benefits, visitation rights nad the other legal privledges of marriage is sure really critical sacraments to the fabric of christianity.

Oh sorry, that was too rational, can't have That sort of thing clouding the issue now can we?

I think it just puts us one State closer to a federal anti gay marriage amendment.Most not all Democrats say they support the concept of civil unions but most don't support gay marriage and we all know where the Republicans stand on this.I'll keep my fingers crossed but I think the more States that have Court ordered gay marriage the worse the opposition to it will get.

To hell with Obama. Why should progress in Connecticut halt its way because Obama has been so far utterly incompetent in dealing with the McCain campaign? Make him earn his place; don't hand it to him.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 11, 2008 6:54 AM


If you think that Obama has been "utterly incompetent in dealing with the McCain campaign" you need to re-read the polling numbers and think again.

This not so much about Obama as it is about the LGBT community stepping up to the plate to be an active and vital part of moving the country forward. To much time is spent whining and moaning in comment sections on blogs and not enough time and is spent doing the serious and hard political work necessary to advance our movement.

Sit back if you want and wait for Obama to "earn his place" in your eyes. I am sure that's exactly what the McCain campaign is hoping that a lot of us will do. But, don't think that sitting back with an "impress me" look on your face is doing anything to push forward LGBT civil rights.

While I appreciate the fear of the negative fallout (Prop 8 in CA, Obama, etc.) which may develop because of the CT ruling, I can't help feeling that in the context of the broader picture, a threshhold has been passed. I'm as cynical as the next gay guy when it comes to this issue, but something seems different now. Gay marriage is rolling down the hill, picking up momentum, and power. It's not going to be stopped. Nor do I believe it will have a negative imnpact on Obama nor Prop 8.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 11, 2008 10:37 AM

Chris, I agree with that insofar as the long term is concerned. Absent the kind of "know-nothing" populism that could infect the populace should the economic situation so deteriorate that our movement get scapegoated for the resulting calamaty (something not unheard of in modern history), the die seems cast in our favor. But that's not to say that in the shorter term, needless number of LGBT folks in flyover country might not be set back in their own quest for equality, even though it might not be the full measure that the California, Massachusetts, and now Connecticut courts have enunciated. In particular, I feel that some of the near-demonization of civil unions, though well intentioned, may at some point come back to haunt us should full marriage equality suffer a temporary setback. But I hope I'm wrong on that.

Connecticut is a huge victory precisely because it consciously replaces the second class status of civil unions with equality.

The decision by the Connecticut Supremes exposes Obama’s support for second class civil unions, subject of course to a George Wallace version of LGBT states rights and “only available” in those few states without DOMAs, for what it is - superstitious cult driven bigotry.

As for the vote in California and the other states this is just one of many variables affecting the outcome. What is for sure in California is that if we lose it’ll be because the battle isn’t being joined in the Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and immigrant communities. Those communities are the majority in California. They need to be specifically addressed by mass leafleting, TV/radio spots and phone banks and all the means at our disposal. In particular rightwing christian leaders have to be denounced as bigots and their ties to Rove and Bush exposed. is a link to an LA Times article titled “Selling Their Birthright to the GOP

In spite of their record the last go around this campaign is based on the dictates of public relations idiots and Democratic Party hotshots who don't have a clue about LGBT politics but are experts on selling predatory mortgages, used cars and opportunist hustlers like Obama. That’s why they give Biden and Obama a pass when they undercut the No on 8 messages with their bigoted views on same sex marriage. They, and not just open reactionaries like McCain and Palin, should be publically challenged and vilified for their bigotry.

I agree with Bil. If the Religious Right wanted an example of a court imposing same sex marriage on a group a state, they had Massachusetts. If they wanted a state that's a little more explosive, they got California. If anyone's going to change their mind on one of these initiatives because of state supreme courts, they'd have done so by now.

Especially in California... are they going to run an ad that says "It happened in CT, it could happen here!" Of course not, because it already happened there, before it happened in CT!

A few more states like MA, CA, and CT and we'll see a Supreme Court decision on this. It's the way these things work.