Bill would end racial designations on marriage licenses

HARTFORD — Marriage licenses would no longer require information on the race of people under legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

The bill, which passed 146-0 after a brief debate, next heads to the state Senate.

“I don’t believe that one’s race should be recorded with respect to a marriage license,” said Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said that in recent years he became aware of the section on marriage licenses for racial designations. “I find that this requirement that someone declare their race in order to marry is offensive,” he said. “Two loving people get together and want to join themselves in a legal ceremony, they should not be barred because they fail to disclose their race. If anything, it prevents people who love each other from doing that.”

It would also codify outdated racially restrictive covenants on property deeds that for decades have been overruled by legal precedent, but remain offensive and are historic reminders of efforts to keep Blacks out of white neighborhoods.

The bill would allow property owners to go to their local city and town halls and record on the land records the removal of the wording from deeds. It would also allow condominium associations to remove restrictive covenants from their association bylaws.

“I was appalled that certain things appear in our land records, such overt racial statements,” Fishbein said. “To preclude the transfer of land based on someone’s skin color or ancestry, this is a good step forward.”

State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, said he’s grateful that lawmakers are finally getting around to deleting remnants of systematic racism that persists in the state. “These are the things that we need to rid our community of,” he said.

In other action scheduled for a long evening, the House scheduled action to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency authority until July 20. It is currently set to end on May 20, the day after the state’s restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to fully open.

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