“It is an honor to contribute a Final Word for Connecticut Voice’s Pride Issue”
As the governor of Connecticut, I am incredibly proud that our state is an accepting, welcoming place for everyone. Our state reflects our shared values: inclusion and opportunity are our birthright; love makes a family, and hate has no home here. It one of the reasons why Connecticut is ranked as one of the best states for families. It is why businesses are choosing to move to Connecticut and it is why Connecticut is emerging as destination for LGBTQ+ tourism. (We recently became the first state to join the LGBTQ+ Travel Association.)
Connecticut historically has been one of the leading states in the nation in protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and families. Continuing this progress has been an important part of my work as governor.
Any day that we can expand equal protection for all individuals is a good day. That is why in 2021, I was proud to work with members of the General Assembly—and with Rep. Jeff Currey, in particular—to sign the Connecticut Parentage Act. We took this action to help break down bureaucratic barriers that families can face simply because of the sexual orientation or gender of the parents.
The law ensures that all children have equal access to the security of a legal parent-child relationship, regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation or gender. The law recognizes that all children are deserving of the same protection that legal parentage provides by making it easier to establish parentage at birth, regardless of whether the child is born to married parents. It also provides important protections for intended parents of children who are born through assisted reproduction.
And while, nearly two decades ago, Connecticut was one of the first states to expand its hate crime law to include targeting someone based on “gender identity or expression,” we know our work protecting individuals from hate is not done.
In 2019, I signed legislation prohibiting criminal defendants in Connecticut from using a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as a legal tactic to bolster the defense of the violent crimes for which they are accused. Commonly referred to as the gay and transgender “panic” defense, the strategy asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. When the tactic is employed, the perpetrator claims that their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identify not only explains —but excuses—their loss of self-control and subsequent assault.
Claiming that meeting or interacting with someone who is gay or transgender elicited some type of temporary insanity that is supposed to justify a violent crime is ludicrous, and quite frankly it is absurd that this tactic has ever been successfully utilized in the court system. The strategy also implies that the life of a gay or transgender person is valued less than others. We will not allow homophobia and transphobia to be legitimate reasons that justify violent crime.
We have also worked to right some of the wrongs of the past. For decades, American servicemembers were subject to unjust discharge from the service solely for their gender identity or sexual orientation. In 2021, we passed legislation restoring state benefits to Connecticut service members who were denied honorable discharge under these circumstances.
More work remains, but it is undeniable that Connecticut is a state where you can be who you are meant to be and love who you want to love. Not only are we committed to protecting the LGBTQ+ rights, but we celebrate them.
At a time when it seems that LGBTQ+ rights are under attack across the nation, it is my hope that Connecticut stands out as a welcoming state.
I look forward to celebrating Pride and working together with you to make Connecticut the best place to work, live, and raise a family.