Connecticut Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage Rights Are Retroactive

In Depth

Connecticut’s highest court just made a stunning decision: it recognised that some rights only now formally granted through same-sex marriage and/or civil unions predate the recognition of relationships by the government.

The state Supreme Court issued a 6-0 decision overturning two lower court rulings. It allows a woman to sue for the malpractice which led to the loss of her wife. At the time of the malpractice, 2001 to 2004, the specific suit “loss of spousal consortium” only applied to heterosexual couples.

The Court found that the couple, Charlotte Stacey and Margaret Mueller, that latter of whom was misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer when she really had a different type of cancer entirely, would have been married many years before if that had been an option.

It further found that Stacey and Mueller had been in a de facto marriage for many years prior to their much more recent formal marriage, first gaining a civil union in 2005, and formal marriage recognition in 2008 in Massachusetts. They’d been committed life partners for twenty three years. Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers wrote in the ruling that:

Society has come to accept the view that committed same sex couples … are entitled to the same social and legal recognition as committed opposite sex couples.

And this appears, in at least some cases, to be retroactive. In the decision, the Court recognised that just because marriage is only formally recognised for same-sex couples now, there have always been committed relationships which were marriage in all but name and recognition, and that Stacey had the right to seek justice in under a statute that should have applied to her and her spouse, but unfortunately did not.

The Supreme Court sought fit to rectify this injustice. It validates my loss of my spouse for the fact that what I suffered for the seven years that Marge had cancer … and all that I gave up and all that I don’t have because she died because of the malpractice.

Image via Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock.

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