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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman Testifies in Support of Legislation Removing Race Designations on Marriage License at Public Hearing

HARTFORD – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) testified in front of the Public Health Committee regarding legislation he proposed that would eliminate race and ethnicity designations on marriage licenses. Connecticut is only one of eight states still requiring married couples to declare their racial background when applying for a marriage license, even as 10 percent of all marriages are interracial or interethnic, according to the U.S. Census.

The race designation "serves no practical purpose in the modern age," Sen. Needleman said in his testimony, and "harkens back to the dark days of miscegenation laws in America – laws that forbid people of different races from marrying."

In addition to being a State Senator, Sen. Needleman is also the First Selectman of Essex and a justice of the peace who has officiated hundreds of weddings. Sen. Needleman proposed this legislation.

Senate Bill No. 370, "An Act Eliminating the Race Designation on Marriage Licenses," would simply remove "race" from the information required to attain a marriage license. Applicants would still need to submit names, ages, birthplaces, residences, status and potential supervision.

Sen. Needleman said the legislation likens back to legislation from the 1800s that deemed "anti-miscegenation laws" constitutional because they "punished both blacks and whites equally."

"Fortunately, in 1967 – just 50 years ago, mind you – the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that Virginia's ban on interracial marriage was unconstitutional," said Sen. Needleman. "Whatever purpose 'race' once played on Connecticut's marriage license application, that purpose has long been superseded by law and common sense."

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