Connecticut LGBTQ community celebrates Respect for Marriage Act signing and looks ahead

On Wednesday, the day after President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, Chevelle Moss-Savage said, “To say I’m thrilled, to say I’m over the moon, and to say I’ve seen me and feel heard is an understatement.”

The OutCT President said she breathed a sigh of relief.

The Respect for Marriage Act codifies the recognition of same-sex marriages and interracial marriages in federal law, which the US Supreme Court has enforced in each case Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 and Loves vs. Virginia in 1967. Same-sex marriages have been legal in Connecticut since 2008 after a state court ruled that civil partnerships did not grant the same rights as marriages.

Moss-Savage married in Washington, DC in 2012, but same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal in her home state of Virginia, which meant she and her partner had to have separate health insurance.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. calf in June, she was one of many who feared the court might overturn upper skin.

The court’s opinion said, “Nothing in this opinion should be taken as challenging precedents not related to abortion.” But Justice Clarence Thomas, in a unanimous opinion, argued that “in future cases, we all substantive precedents of this court, including Griswold, Lawrenceand upper skin.”

said Moss-Savage afterwards Roe v. calf was knocked down: “I got nervous because I was wondering if they’re coming for this right, if they’re coming for other rights too.”

The Respect for Marriage Act passed the Senate 61-36 and the House 258-169, with no Republican votes.

“We are very proud of the 39 members of the Republican House of Representatives and 12 Republican Senators who made this important victory possible,” Bradley and Garrett Bewkes, co-presidents of the Log Cabin Republicans of Connecticut, said in a statement. “The GOP is clearly making progress on marriage equality. We thank the President for signing this law.”

Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing LGBT conservatives and allies.

OutCT founder Constance Kristofik said she’s grateful for those votes, but opposition from Republican lawmakers suggests LGBTQ rights still have a long way to go.

A record-breaking 71% of Americans support gay marriage, according to a Gallup poll conducted in May.

Thinking about love makes a family

Some LGBT rights advocates pondered the story of Love Makes a Family this week, a Connecticut-based organization founded in 1999 to focus on equality for same-sex couples around adoption and marriage. After the organization achieved its goals, it disbanded in 2009. Former chief executive Anne Stanback traveled to Washington, DC to see Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act.

“Today’s legislation seals the deal should Obergefell be overturned,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “There is still so much work to be done for the LGBTQ+ community, but today it feels like a wonderful final chapter on a subject that has been one of the passions of my life.”

She told The Day that with Love Makes a Family, she and others said hearts and minds change when people get to know their families and “it’s encouraging to see that we were right”.

Kristofik got involved with Love Makes a Family when the movement came to southeastern Connecticut about 14 years ago to spread its message. She noted that there was no local LGBT organization at the time. In 2013 she founded OutCT.

Kristofik said the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London was an organization advocating for LGBT rights at the time. Reverend Carolyn Patierno also helped Love Makes a Family, and she noted Wednesday that her denomination has supported marriage equality for decades, so “it wasn’t me that got it started.”

Patierno recalled with a laugh that they didn’t know they were married as she and her partner had entered into a civil partnership and then civil partnerships automatically became marriages in the state.

She said she was “relieved” that Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act and said it was “quite an achievement and quite a development” that 70% of Americans now support marriage equality.

looking ahead

The LGBTQ group is certainly not a monolith, as some people feel they have achieved equality with the legalization of same-sex marriage, while others feel there is still work to be done. Some proudly and vocally identify as queer, while others tend to keep their sexuality private.

Moss-Savage noted that the lived experiences of people of color who are LGBTQ are “very diverse” and that there can be a complicated intersection with faith communities. For example, some people are at work but not at church.

Equality Connecticut is an organization that strives to “advance the rights, health, history and culture of Connecticut’s LGBTQIA+ community,” and Director Matt Blinstrubas said the group will outline priorities and goals for the upcoming legislative session in January. Blinstrubas was organizer of Love Makes a Family.

He explained that just before the pandemic, a group of people began meeting “to ask us if there should be a permanent presence to mobilize the LGBT community, to protect our gains and to help our elected officials, really continue to serve the evolving needs of LGBT people.”

Over the past year and a half, he said, the organization has secured funding, built a board of directors, developed a mission statement, and more.

Blinstrubas called the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act “an exciting culmination of decades of movement building and advocacy at kitchen tables and in parliaments and communities across the country.”

Jake Troy said that he and other members of the LGBTQ community “don’t just want tolerance; we want acceptance and understanding, and this law provides a safety net from a very far-right agenda that has permeated the Supreme Court.”

Troy, who serves as chair of the Ledyard Democratic Town Committee, added that while Connecticut has changed rapidly, “we still have a long way to go to find that accepting, loving place,” citing the persistence of both transphobic statements by political candidates and offensive language.

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