- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A veteran gay-rights activist credits Connecticut with playing “a very important role” in Friday’s Supreme Court decision making gay marriage legal across the U.S.

Anne Stanback, the founder and former executive director of Love Makes A Family, said Connecticut was the second state that “won and secured and maintained marriage for same-sex couples” at a time the movement had suffered some political losses.

“Connecticut had a very important role to play in this victory today,” Stanback said. “We were important in keeping the momentum going.”

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the socially conservative Family Institute, contends gay-rights activists in Connecticut have overstated their national role. He noted that it took a 2008 Connecticut Supreme Court ruling, not legislative action, to legalize same-sex marriage. The state’s highest court determined that civil unions established by law in 2005 were not an acceptable substitute.

“It was a Page B-5 story in The New York Times the next morning,” Wolfgang said of the ruling. “It was not the victory that same-sex marriage advocates wanted out of Connecticut.”

Instead, Wolfgang credits his organization with winning approval of a state exemption for religious organizations from the General Assembly in 2009.

“The faith of those of us who disagree with same-sex marriage is still protected in law and still should be respected in the state of Connecticut,” he said.

Many Connecticut politicians hailed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling as an important victory.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, the state’s highest-ranking gay elected official, said the decision provides him with “personal relief.”

“No matter where I travel across this great nation of ours, my marriage will be recognized,” he said, adding that same-sex spouses had been treated like a “legal stranger” in states where gay marriage was illegal.

Shortly after the ruling, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the rainbow flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride, to be flown over the governor’s official residence in Hartford. The flag had been flown over the residence following an earlier court ruling.

“This is a historic moment, and we should recognize and celebrate its significance,” he said. “Equality, freedom, justice and liberty - all recognized by the Supreme Court in this ruling that moves our nation forward. I am proud to fly the pride flag at the residence today.”

Following are some major milestones for gay rights in Connecticut:

- In 1990, Connecticut lawmakers voted to include sexual orientation as a protected class in the state’s hate crimes law.

- In 1991, Connecticut’s gay rights law was passed.

- In 1999, following a state Supreme Court case, the legislature voted to change the state’s adoption law to allow same-sex couples to both be legally adoptive parents.

- In 2005, a law allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions was passed.

- In 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court voted to allow same-sex couples to marry.

- In 2009, the rights of same-sex married couples were codified into state statutes. The measure included language protecting the freedoms of religious organizations.

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Associated Press writer Stephen Singer contributed to this report.

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