Fort Worth couple sets sights on ‘Constitution State’ as their wedding destination after Prop 8 passage ended gay marriage in California
FORT WORTH — Eight days after one door to marriage for North Texas gay couples slammed shut in California, another one opened Wednesday, Nov. 12 in Connecticut.
Larry Gibson of Fort Worth said he and his partner Michael Click had intended to wed in California, where same-sex marriage became legal in June. But Gibson said they put off making travel reservations to await the outcome of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that put a stop to same-sex marriages in California when it was approved by voters Nov. 4.
Now, Gibson, 48, said he and Click, 50, plan to wed next spring in Connecticut, where a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage took effect on Wednesday. Connecticut became the third state to legalize gay marriage — after California, where it’s since been banned, and Massachusetts, where it’s been legal since 2004 but wasn’t open to out-of-state couples until July of this year.
"We were going to go to California," Gibson said. "We had all intentions of doing that, that or Massachusetts, and then when Connecticut came up, I wanted to do that, because I know that that’s not been popularized yet."
Gibson added that he and Glick also plan to participate in a marriage equality protest outside Dallas City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 15, which he said is important because it will put "regular faces" on the issue of same-sex marriage.
"It’s plain everyday folks who get up in the morning, go to work, come home and have regular lives," Gibson said. "We’re no different from any straight couple in that sense. We both work hard for what we have."
The beginning of gay marriages in Connecticut was described by The Associated Press this week as "a victory for advocates stung by California’s ban on same-sex unions last week."
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Oct. 10 that same-sex couples have the right to wed rather than accept a civil union law designed to give them the same rights as married couples.
And while, in addition to California, constitutional amendments banning gay marriage passed last week in Arizona and Florida, Connecticut voters rejected the idea of a constitutional convention to amend the state’s constitution, a major blow to opponents of same-sex marriage.
With a final order entered Wednesday morning, same-sex couples marched to New Haven City Hall to get licenses, and less than two hours after the final court hearing, Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery were married in a brief ceremony.
"I feel so happy," Vickery, a 44-year-old attorney, told AP. "It’s so much more emotional than I expected."
Bennett Klein, the plaintiffs’ attorney in the Supreme Court case, said, "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."
The first license issued in New Haven went to plaintiffs Robin Levine-Ritterman and Barbara Levine-Ritterman, who have been together since 1989, AP reported. A crowd of about 100 people outside city hall applauded as Barbara Levine-Ritterman proudly held up the license.
"It’s thrilling today. We are all in one line for one form. Love is love, and the state recognizes it," she said.
Manchester Town Clerk Joseph Camposeo, president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said clerks in the state’s 169 communities were advised by e-mail shortly after 9:30 a.m. they could 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.
According to the state public health department, 2,032 civil union licenses were issued in Connecticut between Oct. 2005 and July 2008.
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."
The Family Institute of Connecticut, a political action group that opposes gay marriage, condemned the high court’s decision as undemocratic. Peter Wolfgang, the group’s executive director, acknowledged banning gay marriage in Connecticut would be difficult but vowed not to give up.
"Unlike California, we did not have a remedy," Wolfgang told AP. "It must be overturned with patience, determination and fortitude."
The state’s 2005 civil union law will remain on the books, at least for now. Same-sex couples can continue to enter civil unions, which give them the same legal rights and privileges in Connecticut as married couples without the status of being married.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 14, 2008.