More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church - Vol. 1

By Christine Firer Hinze; J. Patrick Hornbeck II | Go to book overview

3 Our Thirty-Three-Year-Long
Dream to Marry

JANET PECK AND CAROL CONKLIN

Plaintiffs in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health

Janet Peck writes:

Thirty-seven years ago, Carol and I fell in love and began to share our lives together. For thirty-three of those years, we dreamed of getting married but were denied that civil and human right.

That changed on October 10, 2008, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health that same-sex couples had to be allowed to marry in our home state. Carol and I were one of the plaintiff couples in that lawsuit. We were represented by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a legal rights organization working for the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in the New En gland states. As plaintiffs, we were asking for and were granted the right to a civil marriage— the right to be married in the eyes of society and the law.

When a couple decides to get married, they first go to a town hall to apply for a marriage license. Then, actually to get married, they can have either a civil ceremony presided over by a justice of the peace or other legal agent or a religious ceremony presided over by a member of the clergy. In the United States, clergy are empowered by the state to act as legal agents in the signing of a marriage license. Without that legal signature, authorized by the state, a religious ceremony would not be legal. When a couple gets married in a civil ceremony, it is called a civil marriage, although that term is not used in everyday language. Regardless of their choice of ceremony, the couple’s marriage license is issued by the state.

In seeking to marry, Carol and I were not asking to be granted a special right. We were asking to be included in a civil right that already exists. Neither were we asking for a different or lesser status, such as a civil union. Our life together has always reflected what a marriage is supposed to be: a relationship of mutual fidelity, love, commitment, and responsibility. We

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