First Connecticut Same-Sex Couple Marries
Judge Gives Final Ruling Allowing Gay Marriage
POSTED: 9:39 am EST November 12, 2008
UPDATED: 11:29 am EST November 12, 2008
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Less than two hours after a court ruling became official, Connecticut first same-sex wedding has taken place.
Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery, of New Haven, got married Wednesday next to New Haven City Hall, near a farmer's market. The couple said their vows and exchanged rings in a brief ceremony led by Judge F. Herbert Gruendel.
State Rep. To Be Among First Gay Marriages
Wednesday morning Judge Jonathan Silbert entered the final judgment, allowing for same-sex couples to marry in Connecticut.
State Rep. Beth Bye and her partner Tracy Wilson told Eyewitness News Tuesday night that they were hoping to be the first to turn their civil union into a legal marriage.
Wilson, a high school teacher and town historian, said she and Bye have been together for more than six years.
"We are very happy to join the world of the married -- the word has meaning, and it has meaning to us," she said. "We feel so lucky to be in Connecticut right now."
Only Connecticut and Massachusetts have legalized gay marriage. The unions were legal in California until last week when voters passed an amendment banning same-sex marriage. A few other states in the country have followed suit. Connecticut voters rejected a ballot question last week proposing a constitutional convention to amend the state's constitution, dealing a major blow to opponents of same-sex marriage.
State Rep. and co-chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly's Judiciary Committee, Mike Lawlor, lectured at the University of New Haven Tuesday night on the subject. He said it's obvious when he speaks about the issue in front of a classroom that people's attitudes are changing.
"I think that speaks a lot about us as a state -- we are open-minded. We embrace and show happy couples should have advantages. Now gay people will share what straight people have enjoyed for many, many years," he said.
Many Connecticut couples planned to join Bye and Wilson in being among the first to take advantage of the new law Wednesday
Some Connecticut couples planned to celebrate by immediately marching to New Haven's City Hall to get marriage licenses. At least one ceremony was scheduled Wednesday morning on the New Haven green.
The health department had new marriage applications printed that reflect the change. Instead of putting one name under "bride" and the other under "groom," couples will see two boxes marked "bride/groom/spouse."
Joseph Camposeo, Manchester's town clerk and president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said they were notified by e-mail shortly after 9:30 a.m. to start issuing the licenses.
"The feedback I'm getting from other clerks is that we're all at the ready, but no one really has a sense yet of what kind of volume we're going to get," he said.
Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of allowing gay marriage in an Oct. 10 decision spurred by a lawsuite filed by eight couples challenged a state law prohibiting gay marriages. Several of the suit's plaintiffs wept openly as Silbert made his ruling Wednesday.
Today is historic legally and culturally and socially," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who attended the hearing. "My office vigorously defended state law, including the civil unions statute, but we have to put aside our past positions and personal opinions to make sure the law is vigorously enforced and defended and the court's decision is implemented as smoothly as possible."
According to studies performed out of UCLA, there are more than 9,500 same-sex couples in Connecticut.
The study said that if Connecticut follows a similar pattern to Massachusetts, about 3,000 same-sex couples will marry in the next year and 4,700 will likely wed after three years.