With same sex marriages legal in Connecticut, many gay male and lesbian couples have been tying the equality knot.
After 29 years together, Garrett Stack and John Anderson of Woodbridge had a church wedding in 2009.
“There is nothing traditional about two men getting married,” says Stack. “What is traditional is two human beings loving each other and wanting to be together for the rest of their lives.”
Stack and Anderson were one of the eight couples to challenge the Connecticut state constitution for the right to marry. “John and I are both in our 60s and have been together most of our adult life. To see this happen, to prevail, brought tears to our eyes,” Stack says.
After the ruling about 100 students from the University of Connecticut arrived for a rally at the state Capitol. Many were same-sex couples with their friends and supporters. “They were holding hands and cheering,” Stack says. “I looked out at these young people and realized that they would know what it meant to fall in love in college and be able to marry the person they were in love with.”
When Stack and Anderson were married on July 10, 2009 - close to the 29th anniversary of the day they met — they asked the married people in attendance to form a circle in front of the church. “After we were married, we were ‘summoned’ and welcomed into the circle of marriage.”
“It was a special moment,” Stack says.
For some of the state’s same sex couples, the old childhood rhyme, “first comes love, then comes marriage . . . “ might be amended to “first comes love, then comes civil union, then comes marriage.”
Such was the case for Lidia, 52, and Maria Agramonte-Gomez, 55, of New Britain, who first shared vows in a civil union on October 1, 2005.
Because they were the first couple in Hartford to get a license for the civil union, they made national news. “Maria had a friend who was getting on a plane to go to China who picked up a local paper in Oregon and saw our pictures. We had people calling us out of the blue to congratulate us,” Lidia Agramonte-Gomez recalls.
The couple married in 2008. With Lidia facing shoulder surgery, the marriage ensured that as her spouse, Maria would have the same rights as any other spouse with a partner in the hospital. Still, she said, “we would lose whatever benefits were guaranteed by the state when we leave the boundaries of the state.”
At their wedding, Lidia who is half Mexican and half Cuban, and Maria, who is Cuban, wore white linen Cuban shirts called Guayabera and white linen pants.
Like any other couple, how same-sex couples dress for their weddings depends on their own taste. Kelli Sosa, co-owner of Oscar’s Formalwear in West Hartford and Bristol, says about 30 percent of her business “and growing” comes from same-sex couples.
“Walking into a tuxedo store that is geared toward men is intimidating,” says Sosa, who advertises Oscar’s as a gay-friendly business.
There aren’t many women’s tuxedos, she adds. “The women are going with men’s tuxedos, but they are going with styles that work better with women’s curves.” Often one of the women will wear a tuxedo while the other wears a wedding gown. White tuxedos are particular popular among lesbian brides, she says.
Male couples often go the traditional route and wear tuxedos, but with vests and ties in a different color. “It personalizes the tuxedo,” Sosa says.
That was the choice made by John Capasso and Thomas Buckland of Monroe, who got married on June 6, 2009. The grooms both wore black tuxes, with Capasso sporting a black vest and tie and Buckland wearing a white vest and tie.
One hundred forty family members and friends attended the reception at Saint Clements Castle in Portland. “We had been kind of waiting for same sex marriage to be legal. We wanted to feel our wedding was like everyone else’s with touches of personal things. We wanted to have it as a very traditional wedding,” Buckland says.
“I had always thought about a wedding . . . I always thought I wanted a big traditional wedding. I always had planned it out in my head,” Capasso, 47, adds.
His partner, however, felt differently. “Once I realized I was gay, I never thought I would be having a wedding. I came to terms with it,” says Buckland, 46.
Jonathan Wyse, 37, and Michael Deotte, 39, had only 40 people at their wedding. “I would say it was pretty traditional, but intimate. It was in our house and basically for our close family members,” says Wyse.
They initially decided to have their wedding on their 10th anniversary on Sept. 12, 2009, but they moved the date forward to Jan. 1, “because you never know if the law might be repealed. Why take the chance?” Deotte says.
The grooms wore matching suits. A special moment came when Wyse’s grandmother, who was in her late 80s, made a toast. “It was really cute. She ended it by saying everyone should attend at least one gay wedding,” Deotte says.
People from other parts of the country tell Deotte and Wyse how progressive Connecticut is for having gay marriage. “It’s sad that we have to refer to it as ‘progressive,’ when what it boils down to is basic equality,” Wyse says.
Margaret DeMarino is a free-lance writer based in New Haven.