Rallies in Hartford, New London to celebrate same-sex marriage ruling

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HARTFORD -- Connecticut residents celebrated Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision extending marriage rights for same-sex couples though all 50 states. Rallies were held Friday afternoon in Hartford and New London to celebrate.

The Hartford rally was held at the Old State House, the site of the first LGBT pride celebration in Connecticut back in 1982.

Connecticut Latinos Achieving Rights and Opportunities organized the event. CLARO's president, Charlie Ortiz, is Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra's husband. The two commented on how emotional it was to read the Supreme Court's decision.

"It was a very moving situation for us.  We both cried we both cheered. We just think this is the best thing. This is historical," said Segarra.

Hundreds of other same-sex couples, political leaders, members of the LGBT community and allies cheered along with them at the rally. Many said they fought so hard for this day to come, but weren't sure it ever would.

"I remember talking about this 25 years ago, and people were thinking, 'What? Are you nuts?'" said Cheryl Hensel of Fairfield. She married her wife Eniko Mikle the day Connecticut recognized same-sex marriages.

Now, as the couple plans for retirement and possibly moving to another state, they're happy the legal status of their marriage doesn't have to be a part of those decisions.

Mikle said, "The map just opened up and that's fantastic."

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal spoke at the rally, acknowledging the historical significance of this decision.

Sen. Murphy said, "I don't know if there's a day in my short time in public service where I have felt better about being an American."

Sen. Blumenthal used his speech to point out there's still more work to do to end discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodations. "That's the work for the future. Congress has to do its job and make sure that discrimination is stopped," said Blumenthal. "I'm going to work hard to make sure that job is done."

Mayor Daryl Finizio, who is also gay, invited residents to a celebratory community gathering at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on Jay Street in New London at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, people gathered at the Brass Rail on Bank Street in New London.

"We live in the greatest country in the world, not because we are an ideal society, or a perfect union, but because we have an amazing capacity to bridge our differences and expand our definition of equality," Finizio said.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo said Friday's decision "provides me with personal relief that -- no matter where I travel across this great nation of ours -- my marriage will be recognized."

Lembo and his spouse, Charles Frey, have three sons.