As gay activists nationwide remain
preoccupied with sweeping protests in California over passage of a
gay marriage ban, Connecticut quietly started issuing gay marriage
Clerks were emailed shortly after 9:30
a.m. that they could begin issuing gay marriage licenses, Manchester
Town Clerk Joseph Camposeo, president of the Connecticut Town Clerks
Association told The Associated
Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery were
the first couple to be married in a brief ceremony led by a state
appellate court judge.
“I feel so happy,” Vickery, a
44-year-old lawyer, told The Associated Press. “It's so
much more emotional than I expected.”
The Connecticut Supreme Court announced
October 10th that gay couples have the right to marry,
just five months after the California Supreme Court concluded the
same, becoming only the third state in the United States to allow gay
marriage after Massachusetts and California.
“Interpreting our state
constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal
protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay
persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex
partner of their choice,” the justices wrote. “To decide
otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional
principles to gay persons and another to all others.”
“[S]ame sex couples cannot be denied
the freedom to marry.”
Connecticut enacted civil unions for
gay couples in 2005. And in 2007 the state legislature introduced a
bill that would allow gay marriage in the state, but failed to vote
In their 4-3 Kerrigan and Mock V.
Connecticut Department of Public Health decision the justices
said marriage was a constitutional right that could not be denied.
But on Election Day, 18,000 California
gay couples who had married between June and November found
themselves in legal limbo as voters approved a constitutional
amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, leaving only Connecticut
and Massachusetts to recognize gay marriage.
In Connecticut, voters rejected a
ballot initiative that would have forced an expensive constitutional
convention to discuss amending the state's constitution with a
provision banning gay marriage.
Crestfallen gay activists see
Connecticut as a bittersweet victory after losing California.
“The beginning of marriage equality
in Connecticut today is a reminder that, despite our setback at the
polls on November 4, we continue to make progress in our work to
recognize and respect every family,” Parents, Families and Friends
of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Director of Communications Steve Ralls
told On Top Magazine in an email.
“After a week of historic highs and
heart-breaking lows, we can find great hope, and inspiration, in what
is happening in Connecticut today,” Ralls said.
Gay marriage foes in Connecticut have
vowed to ban gay marriage in the state.