Gay Wedding Bells Start Ringing

The ink was not even dry on the judge’s final ruling allowing same-sex marriages when the first couples started to get hitched.

Marriage licenses became available at 9:30 a.m. all over the state.  Before noon, Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery, of New Haven, exchanged vows next door to New Haven City Hall near a farmer's market. They were the first same-sex couple to wed in the Elm City.

Whether they were the first same-sex marriage in Connecticut is not known. 

"I feel so happy," said Vickery, a 44-year-old attorney. "It's so much more emotional than I expected."

Eniko Mikle and Sheryl Hensel (pictured) have been together for 14 years.  The couple, who lives in Fairfield, were joined in a civil union in June.  But they took the next step as soon as they could.

Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman are one of eight couple who successfully challenged a state law prohibiting gay marriage. They picked up their marriage license Wednesday.

"It's thrilling today. We are all in one line for one form. Love is love, and the state recognizes it," Barbara Levine-Ritterman.

"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 the plaintiffs' attorney, Bennett Klein.

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.

Oliveira, 36, a yoga teacher and educational consultant, said marriage makes it clear that her spouse has rights to raise their 3-month-old baby if something should happen to her.

"Everything else dissolved, and it was just the two of us," Oliveira said following the ceremony. "It was so much more personal and powerful in us committing to one another, and so much less about the people around us."

But not everyone is celebrating.  Peter Wolfgang works with Family Institute of Connecticut.  He says it's the beginning of a long battle to restore the sanctity of marriage.
"Same sex marriage came about in an undemocratic manner," he said.  "Our goal will be to let the people have a say as our friends in California and most other states have had."
While the battle wages on, couples now able to tie the knot say the day gay marriage became legal in Connecticut was a day they'll never forget.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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