Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today issued the following statement reacting to two actions by the the United States Supreme Court relating to the rights of same sex couples. In a 5-4 decision in the case of United States v. Windsor, the court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman and denied federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The court also declined to rule on a legal challenge to Proposition 8 in California that bans same-sex marriage in that state. With the state deciding not to appeal a lower court ruling striking down Proposition 8, it is likely that same-sex couples will continue to be married in California.
“Today’s rulings by the US Supreme Court are a victory for human rights and equality throughout the land. It is long past the time in this country for us to recognize – as we have in Connecticut since 2008 – that the love that same-sex couples feel for each other and the families created by in same-sex households are every bit as real and legitimate as heterosexual marriages. These rulings reaffirm that our constitution sets one standard – all Americans are equal under the law. Therefore discrimination based on sexual orientation cannot be a legal basis to deny legal benefits or reserve certain legal rights to individuals or groups of Americans. Though today’s rulings don’t go so far as to say that same sex couples have a constitutional right to be married, that day is clearly coming. Meanwhile, I applaud the high court’s expansion of human rights in our country today.”