Connecticut allows gay civil unions
Gays in Connecticut celebrate new law
By Daniela Altimari Tribune Newspapers: Hartford Courant
Sun Oct 2, 9:40 AM ET
From Hartford, where carnations and applause greeted newly joined couples, to tiny Washington, where two women who have been together for 38 years celebrated with cake and champagne, gays and lesbians across the state ushered in Connecticut's landmark civil union law on Saturday.
"It's a historic day, and we wanted to be part of it," said Lidia Agramonte, 47, who arrived at Hartford City Hall at 7:30 a.m.--90 minutes before it opened--with her partner, Maria Gomez, 50. The New Britain couple held a small ceremony in a park several hours later.
Hartford officials hung a rainbow flag over the entrance to city hall, set out a table laden with juice and coffee and were ready for hundreds of couples. Only 26 showed up. The clerk's office was one of a dozen or so holding special Saturday hours to accommodate couples seeking civil union licenses on the day the law took effect.
Connecticut is the first state to grant legal recognition to gay couples without a directive from the courts. Massachusetts, which permits gays to marry, and Vermont, which authorizes civil unions, were reacting to judges' orders.
Two noon rallies outside the state Capitol protested the new law. One group felt civil unions should not be allowed and the other said that same-sex marriage should be permitted.
Inside Hartford City Hall the mood was jovial. Couples, some with children in tow, waited their turns in the marble corridor outside the clerk's office. When a couple emerged with license in hand, they were greeted with applause and handed a red-and-white carnation.
State Rep. Michael Lawlor, a Democrat and leading proponent of the new law, said he thought Connecticut residents were "comfortable with this."
"The big news of today is UConn beat Army, not civil unions," Lawlor said.
It wasn't always so. Charlotte Johnson, 63, remembers when gays and lesbians were considered mentally ill. "We come from the era where the best thing for us was shock treatment," said Johnson, who has been with her partner, Joan Gauthey, for 38 years. "We've come a long way."
The couple recited vows and exchanged rings at a party with 200 guests Saturday in their hometown of Washington.