Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health
289 Conn. 135
Brief Filed: 01/07
Court: Connecticut Supreme Court
Year of Decision: 2008
Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 2MB)
Addresses a constitutional challenge to Connecticut’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Sexual Orientation (discrimination; marriage)
In 2005, Connecticut passed a civil union law granting same-sex couples the state-based tangible rights, benefits and protections accorded to spouses in marriage. In so doing, however, it explicitly defined marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” Plaintiffs contend that the civil union law, while granting important legal protections, did not remedy the constitutional deprivation created by the marriage exclusion. Specifically, they argue that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage violates the guarantees of equal protection in the Connecticut Constitution; deprives plaintiffs of a fundamental or other protected right to marry; and deprives plaintiffs of the rights of intimate and expressive association. The trial court ruled that the difference between marriage and civil union was merely “nominal” and that plaintiffs therefore had not suffered any actionable harm. It concluded that the Connecticut Constitution had not been violated by the marriage exclusion. The plaintiffs filed an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court which agreed to hear the case.
In a 4-3 vote, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the Connecticut Constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage.