Same-Sex Marriages Commence in Connecticut,
time for the CT JP Conferences
Taking everyone by surprise, the Connecticut Supreme Court on Oct. 10
ruled 4-3 that same-sex couples could not be denied the right to marry. The
Court ruled in favor of eight couples who sued the State back in 2004.
Since the lawsuit was filed, civil unions had become legal in CT, but
the Court deemed them a lesser Constitutional protection. (Read excerpts and articles about the opinion.)
quickly complied, issuing new non-gender-specific licenses on Nov. 12,
and the marriages began.
In the ensuing weeks, same-sex
couples from out-of-state have been flocking to CT to marry. JPs from
Greenwich, the town closest to NYC, have officiated at most of them,
more than in any of CT's largest cities. With no serious threat to
challenge the decision (as happened with California's Proposition 8,
which passed on Election Day, stopping same-sex marriage cold in its
tracks), in-state couples seem to be taking their time,
planning the wedding many had barely dreamed could become a reality.
Expenditures for same-sex marriages in
Connecticut could reach $3 million to $13 million within the next three years,
estimates the Williams Institute at
UCLA Law School. Of the state's 9,546 same-sex couples (according to the U.S. Census
Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey), 2,032 had been joined in civil unions as
of July 31.
Justice of the Peace Association
members have been kept busy, many performing ceremonies at no fee for couples they had "civil
unionized" a few years before. South Windsor JP Janice Favreau
rejoined one such couple as soon as it was legal and had agreed to marry two Texas women
flying in for their ceremony. Norwalk JPs Mary Pugh and
Donna King have
performed 21 same-sex ceremonies between them: Mary's 16 have come from
FL, MD, NJ, NY as well as CT.
Anticipating that some JPs
would be nervous about marrying same-sex couples,
the topic was addressed at all three CT conferences: by Guilford JP
Beryl Weinstein in Durham, Bristol JP Laura Minor in Bristol,
and New Canaan JP Elise Klein in Norwalk.
Everyone had questions about
how the Court's decision would affect JPs. The man with the answers,
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (in Bristol in the photo
was therefore a welcome guest at two of the conferences.
Mr. Blumenthal made it clear that JPs are public officials who are
prohibited by the State Constitution from discriminating. Just as you can't decline to marry a couple because of their race or
religion, he said, you can't decline because they are
the same sex.
Unlike Massachusetts, where one JP
publicly resigned after the state legalized same-sex marriage, Mr.
Blumenthal left open a loophole for JPs who are religiously opposed. While you can't discriminate against any couple, he said, "you don't have to
marry every couple." In other words, there are legitimate reasons why anyone
might not be available to officiate at a particular marriage.
Read news articles about the three Connecticut JP conferences.
There isn't room here to include all the letters we've received on the
above topic. There is a place to express your opinion, however,
and that is the
JP Discussion Forum. Yes, you need
to be registered before you can post there.
Just ask and we'll do it for you. Only one point to be made here: As
Westport JP Wally Myers puts it, "They are not same-sex marriages, they are not gay marriages, they
are simply marriages."
For Massachusetts and Connecticut JPs featured on the
www.findajp.com website, that is
the rule that will guide us.
The Future of Civil Unions... and then there were
A year ago, New Hampshire became the fourth state (after Vermont, Connecticut and
New Jersey) to offer same-sex couples a legal structure intended to
convey the civil benefits denied to them by marriage. But marriage is now an option for gay couples in CT
(although the civil union law
remains on the books), making civil unions practically moot.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a state
commission found that that state's civil union provisions fall short of
those in marriage, including the right to participate in a partner's
health insurance plan or to make medical decisions for an incapacitated
The commission recommended that the legislature legalize
marriage for gay couples, which Gov. Jon Corzine supports. Should that
happen, civil unions will seem more than ever like second-class
Will it be only a matter of time before VT (the first state to
offer civil unions) and NH follow suit? Are the days of civil unions numbered? What is your prediction?
Is the Economy Affecting Your Wedding
According to Recession? Time to
Slash the Flower Budget, an article in the Styles section of the
Dec. 21 New York Times, the best-laid wedding plans are being discarded in
these economically difficult times. From floral designs to the wedding
dress, from the fancy venue to the expansive guest list, couples are facing
reality and spending less than they originally intended. As usual in these
articles, the cost of the officiant is not mentioned. The Justice of the
Peace (or other officiant) plays a vital role in the ceremony yet is often
taken for granted. The JP's contribution might be the biggest bargain of the
Have you been
detecting a trend towards smaller weddings and lower expense among your
couples? Have you been asked to reduce your fee? And have you complied?
Or have you been
getting more "hurry-up" wedding requests as a result of the recession?
Whether to become eligible to file joint tax returns or to get quick access
to a spouse's health insurance or for another reason, December usually
brings a glut of quickie weddings. Has this year had more of them than
usual? We've created a poll on the JP Discussion Forum. It's called
End-of-year Poll: How has the Economy Affected You? If
you've already registered for the Forum, you can login and
take it now.
Write to us
if you 've lost your login information or want us to register you.
Or share your experience by email.
A Devastating Loss
Our hearts go ou
t to JP Bettie-Jeanne Rivard-Darby,
on the tragic accidental death of her
daughter, RobynApril Maguire on Dec. 4. Robyn, who was to become a
new JP in Vernon in January, attended the Bristol Connecticut JP
conference in October, cheerfully and efficiently managing the
registration and merchandise tables. Bettie is a true friend of the
JP Association, speaking at all
three Connecticut conferences this year. We share the family's grief
at this difficult time.
NEW MONOGRAM COLORS FOR JP STOLES
-- and one new monogram style. You say you have one in gold and white? Then royal
purple (with a cream reverse side) is the color you want for your next embroidered
Your satin-stitched monogram on rich satin fabric (dry clean only)
is the royal touch on these beautiful
stoles worn by the discriminating wedding officiant. Choose the new
Cursive monogram (at right) or the Queen, Bishop or Shield style. See
them all here.
Connecticut and Vermont JPs: If you haven't
yet renewed your membership in the JP Association, now is the time. The new term begins on January 5 in Connecticut and on February 1 in Vermont.
Renew here in CT and
here in VT. Not yet a member? Join
here in CT and
here in VT!
Note: The Williams Institute is the first national think tank dedicated to research on issues of sexual orientation law and public policy, and it is the only research center at a law school dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.
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