What's your position? Does it make a difference? What
do couples do while waiting in Massachusetts?
Although she herself was passi
onate about the rights of same sex couples,
also understood that some JPs were
uncomfortable at the prospect of officiating at same sex
ceremonies. From the first JP Association conference in
Connecticut in 2005 (when civil unions became legal and she
first became a JP) to last year's Norwalk conference (when
gay couples were permitted to marry in CT), Elise helped JPs
confront their prejudices and fears on this topic. Once they
did, most JPs became converts, reporting that same-sex
ceremonies were the most rewarding to perform because the
couples were so emotional and appreciative. Elise was
scheduled to speak this year at the Weston CT conference on Nov.
7. She died unexpectedly on Nov. 4. She leaves a son, David Wemhoener, and her partner, David Bedell,
a Stamford JP. More
about Elise is on her organization's website
. We will miss her.
Another enthusiastic JP conference speaker, Beryl
became a JP in his 70s following a career in real
estate and was hoping to officiate
at two scheduled weddings when he died of lung cancer on November 15. He
leaves two daughters, Marsha
Weinstein of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Lisa Weinstein Goldberg of Mamaroneck, NY;
and a grandson. His daughters write, "Dad loved being a JP -- he
put his heart and soul into it and he brought joy to many
couples." Beryl's talk last year was titled "Partners for
Life: Officiating at Weddings of Same Sex Couples." We join
his family in remembering Beryl's verve
When Barb Amergian
asked to join the Justice of
the Peace Association in October, we considered long and hard
before accepting her as a member. Barb is a Notary Public in the
state of Maine, which abolished the position of JP in 1988 and
authorized notaries to perform marriages instead.
Maine now has a page
, the first state without JPs to be
represented. However, when David Marsh retires,
have lost its last JP, having also replaced them with notaries.
Maine and NY Turn Down
After a run of pro-marriage equality steps last Spring
(see June newsletter)
, the tide
recently turned the other way when Maine
voters repealed a state law that would have allowed
same-sex couples to wed. This week, the NY State Senate rejected a
similar bill. Maine became the 31st state to
turn down gay marriage by popular vote.
Citizens of the
five states where gay marriage is or will soon be legal (Massachusetts,
Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and New Hampshire on Jan. 1) have not voted on the measure.
state, the legislature or
a court decision
prompted the change.
Louisiana JP's 15 minutes of notoriety
Justices of the Peace don't often get such coverage.
But by now everyone has heard of Louisiana JP Keith
who refused to marry an interracial couple out
of concern for their potential offspring. Another JP stepped in
and married the couple but that did not save JP Bardwell.
As a result of the national outcry and a pending lawsuit, he
resigned. Since the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in Loving v.
Virginia, "the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of
another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed
by the State."
See Photos of 2009 Connecticut Conferences
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