- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2005

Connecticut and Oregon appear to be vying to become the second U.S. state to create marriagelike civil unions for homosexual couples.

In Connecticut, the Joint Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill to create civil unions, a legal partnership that carries many state rights of marriage but is not called marriage. It is similar to the nation’s first civil union law in Vermont, which went into effect in 2000.

The Connecticut bill still needs to go before the Democrat-led House and Senate, but many observers think it can pass. Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, has indicated “general” support for civil unions, although she has not said whether she will sign this particular bill.

Traditional-values groups, such as the Family Institute of Connecticut and Connecticut Catholic Conference, oppose civil unions as “same-sex marriage in everything but name.” Last week, they released a poll showing that most Connecticut residents would like to vote on a constitutional amendment that reserves marriage for opposite-sex couples.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the watch is on for a pivotal decision by the state Supreme Court.

Last year, Multnomah County officials “married” thousands of same-sex couples, prompting lawsuits. Traditional-values groups reacted with a petition drive for a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, which voters approved in November.

The amendment presumably blocks the Oregon high court from permitting same-sex “marriage,” although the court still must decide on the legality of the 3,000 Multnomah unions.

Homosexual-rights groups generally oppose civil unions because they are not recognized outside the home state and are not viewed as marriages under federal law. Moreover, since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized same-sex “marriage” in that state in November 2003, the goal has become full marriage rights in every state.

In Connecticut, the Love Makes a Family homosexual-rights group initially opposed the civil-union bill, but changed its position. “We will not stand in the way of expanding our rights,” group leader Anne Stanback wrote in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

Americans are divided on legal recognition for same-sex unions.

Polls taken in 2004 show strong disapproval of same-sex “marriage,” according to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which in December updated its report on public attitudes about homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.”

However, in at least seven polls, people were given three options for homosexual couples: “marriage,” “civil unions” or “nothing.” In five of these polls, the most popular answer was “nothing,” the AEI report said. But if supporters of “marriage” and “civil unions” were counted together, they outnumbered those who didn’t want any legal recognition for homosexual couples.

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