While gays in California are seething over the passage of Proposition 8, same-sex couples in Connecticut are celebrating the state’s Supreme Court ruling that proclaimed that laws banning gay marriage violate Connecticut’s constitution.
On October 10, the Connecticut Supreme Court came to a 4-3 decision saying that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage. According to the Associated Press, on Wednesday, a lower court judge entered a final order to comply with the Supreme Court allowing gay marriage.
"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. "This is living proof that marriage equality is alive and well and making progress in this country," reports the Boston Globe.
Couples began to marry less than two hours after the judge’s final order.
Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman, one of the eight couples who challenged Connecticut’s law banning same-sex marriage, became the first of the plaintiff couples to receive their marriage license. According to the Globe, though the couple obtained a civil union in 2005, it "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.
Following Barbara and Robin were Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis, a couple who has been together for over 16 years. After receiving their marriage license, Busch told reporters, "This feels like the beginning of a long married life together."
As same-sex couples continue to plan their weddings, traditional marriage groups have not given up the battle. Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, remarked that though prohibiting same-sex weddings in Connecticut will be difficult, he vowed never to give up. "We will work for the day when marriage as between a man and a woman will be protected and restored in Connecticut," he said. "In the meantime, we will work to limit the damage," he told the Hartford Courant.
Wolfgang also noted that the Supreme Court’s decision was undemocratic.
"Unlike California, we did not have a remedy," Wolfgang said. "It must be overturned with patience, determination and fortitude."
The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut reacted the initial court decision in October saying that they were "extremely disappointed" in the decision, and charging that it "imposes" the recognition of same-sex marriage upon the people of Connecticut.
"This decision is in direct conflict with the position of our state legislature and courts of other states and is a terribly regrettable exercise in judicial activism," they stated.
Furthermore, the bishops and the Connecticut Catholic Conference argued that "Four people have not just extended a supposed civil right to a particular class of individuals, but have chosen to redefine the institution of marriage."
Currently, Massachusetts is the only other U.S. state that has legalized same-sex marriage. In spite of the issue generating debate around the country, last week citizens in California, Arizona and Florida voted to ban gay marriage.