their civil union license Saturday, Lidia Agramonte and
Maria Gomez now have all the same statewide rights as a
married couple in Connecticut. But they couldn't find
words to describe their union. "The hardest thing is,
What do you call yourself, civilized?" said Agramonte,
47, a social worker from New Britain. "There are no
words for it yet."
The women were the first in line at Hartford
City Hall as a new law allowing same-sex civil unions
took effect. City halls in Hartford, Stamford, New
Haven, and a half-dozen small towns held special weekend
hours to issue certificates to couples who said they
had waited for years to be legally recognized.
Connecticut became the first state to legalize
civil unions without being forced by the courts after
lawmakers passed a law endorsing the unions in April.
Massachusetts allows same-sex marriages, and Vermont
recognizes civil unions as a result of lawsuits.
"This is a historic day. We're beyond ecstatic," said
Randy Sharp, 46, of Plainville, who obtained a license
with his partner, Jeff Blanchette, 44. They planned an
afternoon ceremony followed by a reception for about 50
people at a friend's house.
The law affords all the legal statewide rights
of marriage—such as spousal health care
benefits—to same-sex couples, but it still defines
marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Heterosexual couples cannot get civil unions. The
license application is identical to one for marriage,
except "bride" and "groom" are replaced with "party 1"
and "party 2."
The 2000 U.S. Census found about 7,400 same-sex
couples in Connecticut, but no one was tracking how
many applied for licenses Saturday. The day passed
with few reports of protests, except for a rally at the
capitol sponsored by the Family Institute of
Connecticut. It drew about 50 people. "October 1 is a
tragic day because it's the first day a law goes into
effect that states a legislative belief that children don't
need both a mom and a dad," said Peter Wolfgang, the
director of public policy for the institute. (AP)