Connecticut couple married in Massachusetts fight for their rights back home
July 07 2004 12:00 AM ET
Among the first things Katy Gossman and Kristin Marshall did after their May wedding in Massachusetts was change Marshall's last name to Gossman. But they are still waiting for her new driver's license to make it official. When the lesbian couple went to the Connecticut motor vehicle department in the neighboring state, the clerk was at a loss for what to do. "He started to punch it into the computer, and then he looked at the marriage license again. He looked at us, he looked at the license," Katy said. "He said he didn't know what to do with us. They weren't saying no, but they weren't saying yes."
The Gossmans were married in Worcester, Mass., on May 20, three days after the state became the only one in the country to legalize gay marriage. And now they are one of eight couples who have filed a lawsuit challenging a 1913 Massachusetts law that has been used to block out-of-state couples from marrying there. The Gossmans want to keep their marriage from being declared invalid. But even more, they want to use that marriage license to secure in their home state of Connecticut all the legal and health benefits that come with being married. Katy, 40, an FBI agent, said she has already obtained medical benefits for Kristin, 38, under her health plan at work. Katy, who noted that her work is dangerous, has also listed Kristin as her beneficiary on her life insurance and pension.
In the lawsuit, filed in June, the Gossmans and others are contesting a law that bars couples who live outside Massachusetts from exchanging vows there if their marriages would be illegal in their home states. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has said that any same-sex marriages involving out-of-state couples would be declared void. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal has said that Connecticut law does not allow for same-sex marriage, but he declined to say whether the state will recognize marriage licenses issued in Massachusetts. In a letter to Romney, Blumenthal said any marriages performed in Massachusetts would not be automatically void in Connecticut. "It was very important for us to hear him say that," Kristin said. The couple were married by a justice of the peace, who they say was well aware of their Connecticut residency. The ceremony was informal and small, with only Kristin's parents attending.
Katy and Kristin, a full-time student studying to be a medical technician, have been together since they met while warming up during a softball tournament in Houston in 1999. They subsequently moved to Connecticut, where Kristin was raised, and have lived together in Meriden since October. In 2000 the couple had a commitment ceremony in a church in Fort Worth, Texas, where they exchanged vows at the altar. Still, they were reluctant to say they were married. "Someone would say, 'Oh, are you married?' and I would wonder if I should say yes, because I am not legally married, but I have someone in my life who I consider to be my spouse," Katy said. "But now we can say, 'Yes, we're married.' No questions asked, no explanations necessary."
The couple plan to head back to the motor vehicle department with their marriage license in hand. And Kristin is trying to get pregnant by way of a sperm donor. "We want to be able to tell our child that we're married. We want to be 'Mom' and 'Mom,"' Katy said. "We want to be a family."