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Gay couples wed in Connecticut

November 13, 2008|Daniela Altimari | Altimari writes for the Hartford Courant.

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — A four-year legal battle for same-sex marriage in Connecticut came to an end Wednesday when Superior Court Judge Jonathan E. Silbert signed an order paving the way for couples to get licenses.

Less than 30 minutes later, state Rep. Beth Bye and her partner, Tracey Wilson, became the state's first legally married same-sex couple. The experience "took my breath away," Bye said at West Hartford Town Hall.

In New Haven, Jennifer Vickery and Peg Oliveira took their wedding vows with friends watching and their 3-month-old daughter, Willow, tucked in a carriage. They exchanged rings and pledged to share their lives "in good times and in hard."

Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled that preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying violated the state Constitution. The hearing Wednesday was a formality needed before gay couples could obtain marriage licenses.

For gay-rights activists, Connecticut is a bright spot after election day losses in California, Arizona and Florida.

"We . . . think about the heartbreaking vote in California, knowing that a justice movement is not won or lost by one case or one vote," said Bennett Klein, a lawyer for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which litigated the Connecticut case.

"Connecticut sends a message of hope and promise to lesbian and gay people throughout the country who want to be treated as equal citizens by their government," he said.

Massachusetts is the only other state that permits same-sex marriage.

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