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Connecticut House Votes To Allow Gay Unions

On Tuesday, she asked Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) to interpret whether the civil-unions bill would legalize same-sex marriage. After he told her in a letter that it would not, Rell encouraged lawmakers to back the amendment defining marriage.

"The House bill sends an unambiguous message about our commitment to fight discrimination, promote civil rights and preserve the traditional institution of marriage," she said in a statement Wednesday evening. "It is now up to the Senate to act. If they pass the bill in accordance with the House, I will sign it."

Lori Lavalle and Ed Wheeler hand over boxes that they said contained petitions against the bill to Dennis Schain, a governor's spokesman. (Bob Child -- AP)

Providing for Same-Sex Couples

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Sen. Andrew J. McDonald (D), one of the bill's strongest backers, said he expects it to be approved quickly. "We are going to provide landmark opportunities to same-sex couples, and nothing that was done today is going to diminish that victory," he said.

The most heated debate Wednesday centered on the amendment defining marriage.

"It is not extremist politics to state that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," said Rep. Robert M. Ward (R). "It is, in fact, a position shared by the overwhelming majority of citizens in our state."

In a statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the national gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, commended the House for passing the bill but called for the final version to be "free of discriminatory amendments."

Several Democrats said that the amendment was redundant because the bill would not alter the common conception of marriage in the state and that it would enshrine discrimination into state law.

Rep. Evelyn C. Mantilla (D), who said she is raising a child with her female partner, asked her colleagues not to "further write my second-class citizenship into our statutes." She voted against the bill, she said, because the amendment passed.

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