It wasn’t just one court, one legislature, or one governor that made marriage equality for same-sex couples possible.
It was a movement supporters said Thursday at a gathering to commemorate the one year anniversary of the day Connecticut began allowing same-sex marriage.
Carol Buckheit, executive director of Love Makes a Family, the advocacy group which advocated for marriage equality, said since Nov. 12, 2008 more than 1,700 same-sex couples have tied the knot. However, the number is probably larger since it only includes couples married before June 2009.
It was one year ago today that state Rep. Beth Bye and her wife Tracey Wilson paced the West Hartford Town Clerk’s office waiting for the judge in New Haven to certify the Supreme Court’s decision. State Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, married the couple at 9:41 a.m. and a copy of their marriage license hangs on the wall of his office.
One year later Bye and Wilson said they are more in love than ever.
Elizabeth Kerrigan and Joanne Mock, the two lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were married today at noon in their living room by Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer, who authored the majority decision.
“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice,” Palmer wrote. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”
Ben Klein, the lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a Boston-based group that litigated the Connecticut case, said the decision in Connecticut is a “manifesto of equality” that should be followed by every state in this country.
The co-chairmen of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee were also on hand for the celebration.
State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, thanked the eight couples who brought the lawsuit against the state and reflected on how it was not an easy issue for the legislature to deal with through the years. He said it was not an easy issue for some of his fellow colleagues and some struggled with it, while many were able to change their minds.
State Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said marriage equality was possible in Connecticut because there was a cultural shift toward acceptance. “I’m mindful that the rest of the country is not as fortunate as we are here in Connecticut,” Lawlor said.
The fact that Gov. M. Jodi Rell mentioned and got choked up about voluntarily signing the first in the country civil union bill when she announced she would not seek another term earlier this week really shows how far the state has come, Lawlor said. “What more do you need to know.”