Gay marriage wins in Connecticut

GAY MARRIAGE WINS IN CONNECTICUT…. As of this morning, the number of states allowing adults to get married, regardless of sexual orientation, went up by one.

The [Connecticut] Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry swept through the state with the force of a cultural tidal wave.

While lead plaintiff Beth Kerrigan and her partner — soon to be wife — embraced and sobbed after learning of the ruling, opponents vowed to pursue a long and complicated route to change the constitution to ban gay marriage.

The Supreme Court released its historic ruling at 11:30 a.m. Citing the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the justices ruled that civil unions were discriminatory and that the state’s “understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection.”

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” the majority wrote. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

Connecticut already permitted civil unions — it was the first state in the nation to approve a law without a court mandate — but the state Supreme Court has taken equality one step further.

What’s more, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal noted that today’s decision cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because it was based on the state constitution.

As for the political implications, it’s hard to guess how and whether voters elsewhere will react to the decision. For that matter, we’ll have to wait and see whether McCain/Palin and/or the RNC try to exploit far-right anti-gay animus for electoral gain.

My hunch is, though, that given the financial crisis, and the fact that the sky didn’t fall when other states allowed gay couples to marry, today’s decision in Connecticut will have limited national implications. The issue just seems to lack some of the fear-factor the right relied on in previous years.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.