Now that they’ve made history, a New Haven couple has a new plan: to get married.
Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman have been in a committed relationship for 20 years. They were among the eight couples who sued the state to make same-sex marriage legal in the case Kerrigan v. Connecticut Department of Public Health. The battle took three years—culminating with Friday’s decision by the State Supreme Court to make Connecticut the third state in the country to legalize marriages involving gays and lesbians. (Read about that here.)
Standing outside the state Capitol Friday afternoon as a rally celebrating the court’s decision was underway, the Levine-Ritterman said they’re definitely going to get married. They just don’t know when and where.
Robin Levine-Ritterman said back in 1992 they had a commitment ceremony, which made their relationship legal under Jewish law. She said their 11-year-old son looks at the photographs of the ceremony and is confused about why they aren’t married.
In 2005 the couple, who live in the Westville neighborhood, entered in a civil union when Connecticut made that form of commitment legal. Tthey didn’t bring their 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, but they felt it as necessary to get one “to protect our family.”
A week after they joined the same-sex marriage lawsuit as plaintiffs in 2005, Barbara was diagnosed with cancer. She hoped the civil union would protect the couple as they navigated the health care system.
Barbara said when she arrived at the Hospital of St. Raphael for treatment, the woman behind the desk didn’t know how to classify the civil union within the confines of the hospital’s computer system. “She said civil union wasn’t an option, so she would enter me as single,” Barbara recalled.
“If you tell someone you’re married they know where to put it in the computer,” she said.
Barbara, who’s now cancer free four years later, said civil unions were supposed to bring about health care parity, “but it was fairly useless.” She said being able to marry adds a level of safety her family hasn’t had, not only in the health care system, but also in public.
“Before we could hold hands in public only where we felt safe. This adds a level of safety not only legally, but practically,” she said.
Click here to read about what the opponents of same-sex marriage had to say in this New York Times article.