Getting Connecticut’s AG candidates on-the-record about fighting DOMA

Last year, after the Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, filed a lawsuit against DOMA, Paul Sousa, who I think is one of the savvier and fearless activists around, began an effort to push Connecticut’s AG to do the same thing. Connecticut, like Mass., has full marriage equality at the state level. Within a day, Paul got a response from the AG, Richard Blumenthal. It wasn’t a great answer, but he had to respond. Blumenthal is now running for Senate. So, this week, Paul launched a campaign to get the candidates for AG in Connecticut to state a position on whether they’d challenge DOMA:

Thus far, there are 3 Democrats and 1 Republican who have announced their candidacies for Attorney General. Since marriage equality is indeed the law in Connecticut, we are asking those 4 Attorney General candidates if they will follow Massachusetts’ lead and stand up for the citizens and laws of their state by filing a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

FYI, in addition to the Attorney General having a duty to defend state law, defending marriage equality just so happens to be the politically expedient action to take. The majority of Connecticut citizens support marriage equality and those numbers continue to grow.

So let’s ask all 4 Attorney General candidates if elected, they would defend state law, marriage equality, and file a lawsuit against DOMA!

Well, Daniela Altimair, a reporter at the Hartford Courant, saw Paul’s campaign and decided to ask the AG candidates for their position on challenging DOMA. And, she got some answers. Not all great answers, for now, but the candidates are going on the record. And, clearly, a couple of them will have more to say on this:

Susan Bysiewicz, Democrat
“As attorney general, I would uphold the marriage laws of our state, which allow a man and a woman to marry, two women to marry and two men to marry. I have not seen the lawsuit the attorney general of Massachusetts has brought. I would like to look at that closely before I make a decision on this issue. I do not know what particular principles she is relying on.”

Martha Dean, Republican
Did not provide an answer at this time. She said she will be available for questions on this and other topics when she formally announces her candidacy on March 16.

George Jepsen, Democrat
Said he is consulting with attorneys to get a legal breakdown of Coakley’s case. But, he added, “I am very sympathetic to the cause” and noted his long public support for same-sex marriage.

John Pavia, Republican exploratory candidate
Does not support joining the lawsuit. “This is an issue for the legislature to decide on a state-by-state basis. We have more important things to be focused on like getting people back to work, creating jobs and lowering taxes. If it were up to me, we would have nothing to do with that case.”

Andrew Roraback, Republican exploratory candidate
“As far as the citizens of Connecticut go, it’s settled law. I support the law of Connecticut and it would not be a priority of mine to influence the laws of other states. I don’t think that’s the role of the Connecticut attorney general. The role of the Connecticut attorney general is to uphold Connecticut law and protect Connecticut citizens.”

Cam Staples, Democrat
“I agree with [Coakley’s] position that DOMA violates the equal protection clause…I certainly think all Connecticut citizens deserve the same federal rights they enjoy under state law. I would certainly if we can join that suit…or find the right way to participate…Pursuing a suit against the federal government is certainly consistent with our responsibility to our citizens under state law.”

That last answer is the best one. Jepsen’s a long-time ally, so I suspect he’ll be good on this. And, Bysiewicz, too, once she gets that closer look.

Nice work by Paul, again. The Facebook event for the campaign is here.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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