Connecticut Lawmakers Cheer Supreme Court's Decision on Gay Marriage

By Stannard, Ed | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), June 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

Connecticut Lawmakers Cheer Supreme Court's Decision on Gay Marriage


Stannard, Ed, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


State Comptroller Kevin Lembo has first-hand knowledge of how the legalization of same-sex marriage affects families.

Lembo, the first openly gay statewide official, and his spouse, Charles Frey, wanted to adopt two boys a number of years ago, before same-sex marriage was legal.

The New York state judge refused to allow them to adopt the boys, who are now adults. "He was not going to finalize it," Lembo said Friday. "He was not convinced that it was in the best interests of the child."

The case ended up in appellate court and, after "two years of legal battle and tens of thousands in legal fees," Lembo and Frey finally were able to adopt their sons.

Fifteen years ago, still before their partnership was legalized, Lembo and Frey, who live in Guilford, adopted a third son, in front of a probate judge who had a different attitude.

"It was the most wonderful experience and everything I had hoped," Lembo said Friday, after the Supreme Court made the personal biases of probate judges irrelevant.

To Lembo, the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision means more than legalizing same-sex marriage. It means LGBT couples will no longer have to allow "any other person to tell you you're not good enough" to have a family.

It's issues like adoption and being listed on a spouse's death certificate, things "that most of my straight friends take for granted," that will be among the effects of the ruling, which struck down bans against same-sex marriage nationwide, Lembo said.

Before Friday, same-sex couples could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

For Anne Stanback, who led Connecticut's fight for marriage equality, the decision "affirms what a majority of Americans already know, which is that marriage is about love."

Stanback said no church would have to recognize those marriages because "we have the First Amendment." She said the issue would be likely next to move to finding a balance between religious liberty and the right to have same-sex marriage respected under the law.

"This is a momentous victory and will have impact on a range of other issues," Stanback said. There are still 28 states where LGBT people can lose their jobs or housing or be denied service in a restaurant "simply because of who they are," Stanback said.

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, is among those who disagreed with the Supreme Court's majority, but he said preservation of religious liberty is still a battle to be fought.

The decision "does leave the religious liberty exemptions that we won in 2009 still in place in Connecticut, so that is a tremendous relief to us."

The General Assembly in 2009, one year after Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage, passed a law that said faith groups could not be compelled to recognize them.

Wolfgang said that lack of such a law has meant that Catholic Charities in Boston stopped its adoption service because it would have had to allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Many of Connecticut's political leaders applauded the decision, with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., saying it marks "a transformative moment in our nation's history, but it builds on everything before. Our gratitude goes to all whose courage and strength and struggle won this day."

"Today I feel so proud to be a citizen of a country that can have the courage to get right what it got wrong for so long," said a statement by U. …

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