Civil Marriages for same-sex couples to begin next month in Connecticut

29 Oct 2008

From Associated Press

Associated Press Writer

Officials are gearing up for the day next month when gay and lesbian couples can begin tying the knot in Connecticut.

Attorneys involved in the gay marriage case said Tuesday that couples can begin picking up marriage license applications sometime on or after Nov. 10. A judge at the New Haven Superior Court, where the case began in 2004, still must decide the precise date.

The state Supreme Court's decision allowing same-sex marriages became official Tuesday with its publication in the Connecticut Law Journal. The publication triggered a 10-day period when motions for reconsideration can be filed.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said after that period ends on Nov. 10, the Superior Court judge can act on the high court's ruling.

The judgment may come later that week because Nov. 10 is a Monday, a busy day for the Superior Court, and Tuesday is a state holiday.

The state Department of Public Health is having new marriage applications printed that reflect the change. Instead of putting one name under "bride" and the other under "groom," couples will see two boxes marked "bride/groom/spouse." The new forms are expected to be shipped out to city and town clerks later this week.

"The moment the judgment is entered, the state of Connecticut is required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And we expect the clerks will be ready," said Bennett H. Klein, senior attorney with the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

The state Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision 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. Connecticut became the third state, behind Massachusetts and California, to legalize gay marriage.

It's unclear how many couples will get married.

According to the public health department, there have been 2,032 civil union licenses issued in Connecticut between Oct. 2005 and July 2008.

"I would bet that the majority of those people would change the civil unions to marriage," said Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, a pro-gay marriage organization. "I think that you have people who've waited to get married and have not had civil unions."

Couples currently in a civil union that wish to become married will need to fill out a marriage license application form at their city or town hall. There is no residency requirement for marriage in Connecticut.

The state's 2005 civil unions law will remain on the books, at least for now. Same-sex couples can continue to enter civil unions, which give them the same state legal rights and privileges as married couples without the status of being married. It will be up to the General Assembly to decide whether to change the civil unions law, Klein said.