MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel. A week after voters banned gay marriage in California, same-sex couples in Connecticut have begun tying the knot. Lucy Nalpathanchil of member station WNPR was in New Haven this morning when the first licenses were issued.
LUCY NALPATHANCHIL: This historic day started out in a courtroom this morning as the Superior Court judge signed an order allowing gays and lesbians to apply for marriage licenses. It all began in 2004 when plaintiffs Barb and Robin Levine-Ritterman were among seven other couples that sued Connecticut for the right to marry. Last month, the state's Supreme Court ruled Connecticut could not ban gay marriage, saying it was unconstitutional. Today, the Levine-Rittermans walked hand in hand from the courthouse to city hall to be first in line for a marriage license.
Ms. ROBIN LEVINE-RITTERMAN (Applicant, Same-Sex Marriage License): We're excited.
Ms. BARB LEVINE-RITTERMAN: (Applicant, Same-Sex Marriage License): We're very excited. It's a wonderful day for us and for Connecticut, I think.
Ms. ROBIN LEVINE-RITTERMAN: We've been waiting for a long time.
NALPATHANCHIL: White balloons and vases of red roses stood next to the doors of New Haven's City Hall as the couple walked among a crowd of several dozen people who stood and cheered.
(Soundbite of applause)
NALPATHANCHIL: Inside the clerk's office, they filled out a pink marriage license application. Barb Levine-Ritterman reads out loud as she fills up the newly-drafted state form.
Ms. BARB LEVINE-RITTERMAN: It has bride, groom, spouse.
NALPATHANCHIL: After checking spouse, the couple was handed their license.
Ms. BARB LEVINE-RITTERMAN: OK.
Unidentified Woman: Congratulations.
Ms. ROBIN LEVINE-RITTERMAN: Thank you very much.
Ms. BARB LEVINE-RITTERMAN: Thank you. There it is, the official marriage license.
NALPATHANCHIL: The couple is planning a May wedding. Attorney Bennett Klein of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders argued the Connecticut case. He told the crowd this is a joyous day for Connecticut, but he urged them to think about gay couples elsewhere.
Mr. BENNETT KLEIN (Lawyer, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders): We also think about the heartbreaking vote in California. Even as we know that a justice movement is not won or lost by one case or one vote, today Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equal citizens by their government.
NALPATHANCHIL: Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only states that allow same-sex marriage now that California voters repealed their state's law. And same-sex couples from around the country will be able to marry here, since Connecticut has no residency requirement. It's up to a couple's home state on whether to recognize the marriage as valid. It seems gay couples can take their time in planning their weddings, since there's no effort to overturn the law in Connecticut. But Peg Olivera and Jennifer Vickery got their license and immediately walked out of New Haven City Hall to stand before a justice of the peace.
(Soundbite of wedding ceremony)
Unidentified Man: I, Peg.
Ms. PEG OLIVERA (Connecticut Resident): I, Peg.
Unidentified Man: Take you, Jennifer, to be my spouse.
Ms. OLIVERA: Take you, Jennifer, to be my spouse.
Unidentified Man: To have and to hold from this day forward.
Ms. OLIVERA: To have and to hold from this day forward.
NALPATHANCHIL: The two say they look forward to calling each other wife and raising their three-month-old baby, Willow, in a state that recognizes them as married. For NPR News, I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil in New Haven.