In closing, Ben focused his argument on the fact that marriage is more than the sum of all the tangible rights and benefits associated with the word “marriage.” Rather, the ability to say that you are married is one of the benefits of marriage. There is no adjective or verb associated with the word “civil union” and gay and lesbian couples and families deserve a legal status that let’s them convey to the world that they have access to the same level of equality enjoyed by CT’s other citizens.
Ben also rebutted the state’s argument that the legislature could have rationally believed that civil unions are better because they are more likely to be granted recognition in other states. Ben said that the premise was all wrong. Only a few states have civil unions but all states have marriage recognition laws. No one can prejudge whether a marriage will be respected in whole or in part because the outcome of a marriage recognition analysis might turn on what aspect of marriage someone needs to have recognized, as well as potentially competing public policies. For example, a state may respect a marriage to enforce child support obligations arising from a marriage because the state policy of protecting children surmounts any competing public policy.