Across Connecticut, town clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday — just a week after voters in California passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage there.
Connecticut and Massachusetts are now the only states that allow same-sex marriages.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge signed an order allowing gays and lesbians to apply for marriage licenses on Wednesday morning. Barb and Robin Levine-Ritterman walked hand in hand from the courthouse to New Haven's City Hall to be the first in line.
In 2004, the couple, along with seven others, sued Connecticut for the right to marry. Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled Connecticut could not ban gay marriage, saying it was unconstitutional.
White balloons and vases of red roses stood next to the doors of City Hall as the Levine-Rittermans walked among a crowd of several dozen people, who stood and cheered.
Inside the clerk's office, they filled out a pink marriage license application. Barb Levine-Ritterman read out loud as she filled out the newly drafted state form.
"It has 'bride/groom/spouse,'" she said. After checking "spouse," the couple received their long-awaited license. They are planning a May wedding.
Attorney Bennett Klein of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders argued for the plaintiffs in the Connecticut case. He told the crowd that it was a joyous day for the state, but he urged them to think about gay couples elsewhere.
"We also think about the heartbreaking vote in California, even as we know that a justice movement is not won or lost by one case or one vote. 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," Klein said.
Same-sex couples from around the country will be able to marry in Connecticut since the state has no residency requirement. It's up to a couple's home state to decide whether to recognize the marriage as valid.
It seems gay couples can take their time in planning their weddings because there's no effort to overturn the law in Connecticut.
But Peg Olivera and Jennifer Vickery got their license and immediately walked out of New Haven City Hall to stand before a justice of the peace. The two say they look forward to calling each other "wife" and raising their 3-month-old baby, Willow, in a state that recognizes them as married.