Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has answered a series of legal questions formally asked by state officials relating to the state's Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex marriages.
The opinions cover the status of civil unions, recognition of out-of-state marriages, and other topics.
"Under the order that we will seek, same-sex marriages will begin during the week of November 10," Blumenthal said.
"While extending marriage to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court ruling leaves civil unions in place, along with all benefits associated with such status,” Blumenthal said. “Couples who have entered into civil unions will continue in that status, receiving health and life insurance, pensions and other rights--and need not dissolve their civil unions should they choose to enter into marriage with one another.”
For employers, the key point is that civil union couples continue to be eligible for benefits. Therefore, if an employer currently provides benefits for an employee's same-sex civil union partner, the benefits must continue because civil unions are still recognized under state law. Going forward, employers must provide the same benefits to an employee's same-sex spouse or same-sex civil union partner as they provide to an employee's opposite-sex partner.
The Supreme Court had ruled that Connecticut 's laws limiting marriage to opposite sex couples violate the equal protection provisions of the state constitution and that "same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry."
Among several legal opinions released this week, Blumenthal said civil unions will continue to be performed and recognized and need not be dissolved prior to the couple marrying each other, and that out-of-state civil unions and marriages will be legally valid in Connecticut.
Although no state law requires justices of the peace to marry any particular couple, they may not refuse to perform a marriage for discriminatory reasons, in violation of the Connecticut Constitution, Blumenthal said.
"The ruling raises profoundly significant questions that we are working to address before the Superior Court implements same-sex marriage in Connecticut in early or mid November," Blumenthal said. "We are collaborating with other state agencies to provide proper protocol and forms.
Blumenthal gave the following opinions based on questions from state officials:
- The decision does not alter the status of existing civil unions in Connecticut . Both same sex marriages and civil unions will be granted and recognized under current law and policy.
- Same sex couples who are currently in civil unions are NOT required to dissolve their civil unions prior to marrying each other, but must take additional and separate steps to be married.
- Couples who have entered into civil unions will continue to be eligible for all health, pension, life insurance and other benefits now guaranteed under civil unions.
- Connecticut will continue to recognize the validity of out-of-state civil unions and, in addition, will now recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.
- Parties to a same sex marriage will now be accorded the same state tax treatment as parties to civil unions and opposite-sex marriages.
- The age restrictions and other requirements currently in place for a marriage between opposite-sex couples will apply fully and equally to same-sex couples.
- Although no state law requires justices of the peace to marry any particular couple, they may not refuse to perform a marriage for discriminatory reasons, in violation of the Connecticut Constitution.