When Maria Trumpler and her female partner celebrated their commitment ceremony at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Connecticut a decade ago, she thought her union would never be recognized by the state.
But after the Connecticut Supreme Court’s verdict last Friday allowing same-sex marriage, what once seemed impossible is now a reality for Trumpler and other same-sex couples in Connecticut.
“We’ve been joyful all weekend. Ten years ago we never imagined that the state would come around,” she said. “We can’t believe how fast things have changed.”
Trumpler, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program’s director of undergraduate studies, said she and her partner are considering a second ceremony at the end of this month.
There could be more such ceremonies among faculty in the future, if the court’s decision draws more same-sex couples to the University. Trumpler thinks that could happen.
“It will certainly make Yale and Connecticut a more attractive place for same-sex couples,” she said.
But while the high court’s ruling makes it possible for same-sex couples in Connecticut to tie the knot, obstacles to equal rights remain at the federal level. Federal taxes are still levied on health benefits extended from one same-sex partner to the other. Such benefits are tax-free in a heterosexual marriage.
“Most heterosexuals who have benefits have no idea that when their gay colleagues get health care for their partners, they have added costs,” said George Chauncey, an expert on gay marriage and chair of LGBT Studies at Yale.
Despite the curtailing of some benefits, Trumpler said still she believes homosexuals will now view Yale in a more favorable light when searching for jobs.
Trumpler said she knows one member of the University faculty who came to teach after living in a foreign country where same-sex marriage was legal. The faculty member, who Trumpler declined to name, had to accept that the state would not recognize the couple’s marriage upon taking a job at the University, Trumpler said.
Joseph W. Gordon GRD ’78, the acting dean of Yale College, said there are other factors to consider beyond the high court’s ruling, which he termed “terrific news.” The University, Gordon said, supports LGBT students, faculty and staff through its nondiscrimination and equal opportunity policies and by fostering welcoming attitudes within the University community.
Students said over the weekend that while their thoughts were more closely focused on their studies than marriage, the overall reaction to the verdict was one of triumph.
On Friday, this excitement manifested itself in a flurry of e-mails and text messages sent between LGBT students in Yale College. Even though students may not be getting married in the immediate future, the legalization of same-sex marriage is still an important victory, said Yoshi Shapiro ’11, co-coordinator of Sappho, the newly-renamed undergraduate organization for lesbians at Yale.
“It’s not in the forefront of my mind, but it is something that I’m really proud of,” she said.