Gay Marriage Opponents Cheer Change

Opponents of gay marriage are celebrating an amendment to Connecticut’s gay marriage legislation that allows religious organizations to opt out of same-sex ceremonies.

The provision is not unique, but goes further than those in Vermont and a handful of other states that recognize institutions that object to gay marriage.

“It’s a gesture of respect,” National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher told POLITICO. “Even people who want same-sex marriage see that groups that want marriage to remain between husband and wife have a point.”

On Wednesday, the Connecticut General Assembly became the fourth state legislature to legalize gay marriage. Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, personally opposes gay marriage, but has said she’ll sign the bill.

The compromise amendment provides “full conscience protection” to parties that object to gay marriage, including vendors and members of the service industry.

In Vermont, only churches, clergy and religious organizations can object and opt out of gay marriage ceremonies.

Gallagher conceded that convincing lawmakers to reject the bill was likely a losing proposition in Connecticut, but said her organization helped pressure local lawmakers to adopt the provision.

The amendment is a small victory for a movement reeling after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the state’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Gallagher said she hopes the decision represents “a change of heart among gay marriage advocates,” adding that gay marriage opponents will likely push for similar provisions in other states considering the issue.

“I’m not conceding that there are states where we can’t stop same-sex marriage,” she said. “I don’t think either side is going to give up its core position. But it’s great when Americans can compromise when they can.”

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