Continued from page 1

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell said that she disagreed with the ruling but that “the Supreme Court has spoken.” She also warned against efforts to reverse the decision, saying she is “firmly convinced” that they “will not meet with success.”

Connecticut’s attorney general, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, said the state would not try to appeal the decision, which will take effect some time after Oct. 28.

Opponents of gay marriage said they would try to reverse the ruling via a regularly scheduled ballot measure in November that would open a state constitutional convention. They said they hoped such a convention could take up the issue of gay marriage.

“Then we will put a question on the ballot to allow the public, not our robed masters, to decide once and for all if marriage will be protected in our state constitution as the union between a man and a woman,” Mr. Wolfgang said.

The Bush administration issued a statement last night denouncing the ruling, which domestic-policy assistant Karl Zinsmeister said “illustrates that a federal constitutional amendment may be needed if the people are to decide what marriage means.”

Neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Sen. John McCain had issued a public statement on the ruling as of Friday night.

The decision comes just three weeks before Californians will vote on a state constitutional amendment that would reverse their state’s high court and define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

After months of trailing in polls, the latest CBS News/SurveyUSA Today poll shows California’s Proposition 8, leading by 47 percent to 42 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

More than 25 states have constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage.

Eight same-sex couples brought the lawsuit, Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, in 2004 after applying for marriage licenses and being denied. They said their constitutional rights to equal protection and substantive due process were violated.

The Connecticut legislature passed its civil-unions law in 2005, the first state to do so through the democratic branches, in an attempt to address the claims of discrimination and to provide gay couples with the benefits of marriage.

But Friday’s decision, which overturned a lower state court ruling, rejected the state’s claim that its civil unions law meant the inability to marry did not harm gays.

In his dissent, Justice David M. Borden criticized the court for judging civil unions as inferior, writing that “it is simply too early to know this with any reasonable measure of certitude.”

Justice Palmer brushed aside that objection, saying that although the legislature granted all the benefits of marriage, it “nonetheless created an entirely separate and distinct legal entity for same sex couples even though it readily could have made those same rights available to same sex couples by permitting them to marry. In view of the exalted status of marriage in our society, it is hardly surprising that civil unions are perceived to be inferior to marriage” and thus harms gay couples by the very fact of the civil-union status.

Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes A Family, which has lobbied for gay marriage in Connecticut for nearly a decade, exulted in the victory.

Story Continues →