Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Connecticut got it right

Wednesday, 3:29 PM From the City & Region staff at The Boston Globe

Same-sex marriage begins in Conn.

November 12, 2008 11:43 AM Email| Comments (0)| Text size – +
By Gregory B.
Hladky, Globe Correspondent

NEW HAVEN -- Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery became Connecticut's first legally wed same-sex couple shortly before 11 a.m. today in a ceremony on the steps of City Hall punctuated with tears, red roses, and clutches of white balloons.

Their marriage was conducted nearly 90 minutes after a lower court judge formally entered a decision to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling that found that any laws banning same-sex marriage violated Connecticut's constitution. Standing in Superior Court, the eight plaintiff couples in the case hugged each other and their lawyers as Judge Jonathan E. Silbert entered the ruling and cleared the final hurdle, making this the only state other than Massachusetts to allow same-sex couples to wed.

"Today Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equal citizens by their government," said Ben Klein, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, speaking on the courthouse steps "This is living proof that marriage equality is alive and well and making progress in this country.

The plaintiff couples and the crowd of 50 well-wishers walked a few blocks to City Hall to be greeted with bouquets of red roses and clusters of white balloons. A small crowd at the steps cheered and passing cars honked in support of the same-sex marriage victory.

In the City Clerk's office, Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman became the first of the plaintiff couples to get their marriage license. The couple's civil union "just did not compute" for their twin 11-year-old sons, Carlos and Fernando, said Barbara Levine-Ritterman. "Now they can say our moms are married," she said.

Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis, another of the plaintiff couples, wore pink "I do" buttons on their lapels as they emerged from city offices with their new marriage license.

"This feels like the beginning of a long married life together," said Busch with a wide grin as he stood with his partner of more than 16 years.

The recent vote in California to ban same-sex marriage with an amendment to that state's constitution dulled the glow of today's victory. "It's very sad," Davis said. "It does somewhat diminish our joy."

But Davis said he and his fiancée aren't worried about a similar ban ever taking affect in Connecticut because, "it is the safest place in the country for gays and lesbians."

The Connecticut Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision on Oct. 10, ruling that the state's 2005 civil unions law did not go far enough. In finding that any ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution, the high court sent the case back to where it originated four years ago with Judge Silbert in Superior Court.

A similar state California Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage there on June 16. That decision was overturned by a statewide referendum, which narrowly passed last week.

Same-sex marriage first became legal in Massachusetts in May 2004, following a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court.

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