Jen & Peg Get Married

by Paul Bass | November 12, 2008 12:39 PM | | Comments (13)

DSCN2124.JPGThey met at yoga, fell in love — and waited out civil unions to become New Haven’s first married same-sex couple.

Standing in front of the “Make Us Free” slogan at the base of New Haven City Hall’s Cinque statue, Peg Oliveira and Jen Vickery exchanged rings and were pronounced married Wednesday morning.

Jen (at left in photo), a 44-year-old attorney who specializes in housing discrimination cases, bought a brown velvet dress for the occasion. Peg (at right in photo), a 36-year-old yoga instructor, wore a new silk scarf and tuxedo pants with a bow on the left hip.

They’ve been together almost four years. They bought a house in New Haven. Peg gave birth to their daughter, Willow, three months ago. They were living like any committed long-term couple but were waiting for the chance to receive that official status of “married.”

Peg proposed to Jen the night of Oct. 9, 2007, outside CafĂ© Bottega at Chapel and Temple Streets. It was Jen’s birthday. Peg had the ring in her pocket; she was planning at some point to pop the question. Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” was blaring from the Bottega sound system onto Chapel Street.

“They’re playing our song!” Jen said.

“It is?” Peg responded.

She decided it was time.

“I want there to be a moment when we’re saying we’re doing this forever,” she said. They made a vow: They would get married “when the state of Connecticut gets around to it and catches up to us.”

The state did, almost exactly a year later, on Oct. 10, 2008. That’s when the State Supreme Court granted marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

That decision went into effect Wednesday morning. Accompanied by their three-month-old daughter Willow, Jen and Peg were the first to make use of Connecticut’s new right and seal it with a rite officiated by their friend appellate Judge Herbert Gruendel.

Yoga Beginnings

Their journey began almost four years ago, when Jen wandered into a yoga class at the old Downtown Racquet Club at Temple and George Streets. Peg was teaching the class.

At the end of class, Peg announced she’d be gone for a while. She needed to have surgery. Jen was struck by the teacher’s poise.

“She was so calm! I said, ‘I’ve got to know that person.’”

When Peg returned to class a month later, Jen remained after class. She asked Peg to dinner. They went for Thai food on State Street. The relationship took off from there.

DSCN2130.JPGWhile they knew they were in the relationship for the long haul, they balked at signing up for a separate-but-equal, hard-to-explain “civil union.”

Wednesday morning before their wedding ceremony, as they filled out forms and awaited their marriage license at the Office of Vital Statistics in City Hall, they expressed their gratitude to the eight couples who filed the lawsuit, Kerrigan vs. Connecticut Department of Public Health, that led to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

“When you say to someone, ‘We’re getting civil union-ized,’ it means nothing,” Peg said. “When you say, ‘We’re getting married,’ it means everything.”

DSCN2121.JPG“Willow can now go through life and say, ‘These are my married parents,’ and everyone understands what that means,” Peg said.

“Willow will be able to read fairy tales and know that when people get married at the end, that’s what her parents did, too,” added Jen.

“Whither Thou Goest”

As soon as they obtained the license, they greeted a crowd of well-wishers and reporters outside City Hall’s entrance by the statue paying tribute to the Amistad slaves who, led by Cinque/ Sengbe Pieh, revolted against their captors in 1839 and won a landmark civil-rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Peg choked Jen up by recounting how she had originally proposed in the aisles of IKEA, at which time Jen wasn’t ready to say yes. Peg spoke of Jen’s “passion for life, so adorable and sexy and crazy,” a passion she wanted to share in for the rest of her life.

“I Jennifer, take you Peg, to be my spouse,” Jen recited at Judge Gruendel’s prompting, “to have and to hold from this day forward. I promise to love you, to respect you, to share your life in good times and in hard times always.”

DSCN2135.JPGThe judge reflected on the historic significance of the occasion.

“A lot of good people have worked for a long time to create the opportunity for you two to have a wedding today,” he said. “Ultimately it came down to seven thoughtful people who are members of our Supreme Court. But there are a lots of others, and they are all around us.

“But I have to say to you, from now on those people are not part of the life you recreate. The life you create from now on will be one you create together and one that is made possible by the love that you have for each other.

“Courts do not create rights. This country was founded on a principle that all men and women are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Courts simply say what rights government cannot interfere with. Rights do not come from the courts.”

At that point, Peg and Jen exchanged rings. The judge led them in reciting from the Book of Ruth (“Whither thou goest, I will go/ Your people will be my people”). He pronounced them married. Peg and Jen kissed, the crowd cheered, the cameras clicked.

And the couple prepared to celebrate Wednesday night — by going to Erector Square, where Peg teaches her yoga class.

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Posted by: Tara Walsh | November 12, 2008 4:06 PM

Congrats to all of the couples today, who have love (and the state of Connecticut) on their sides.

My wife and I married in CA on the first day that same-sex marriage was legal here and we are feeling disheartened by last week's election result on Prop 8.

Reading this story just gave me new hope and I thank you for that! Much happiness in your lives together!

Posted by: Leslie Blatteau | November 12, 2008 4:52 PM

Congratulations to Jen and Peg! Words can't express how cool it is to open the Independent and see the beautiful newlyweds with their daughter in front of City Hall. Much love to you and to all the couples who are celebrating!

Posted by: Sig | November 12, 2008 6:41 PM

Another sad day in American History.

Posted by: joshua | November 12, 2008 6:59 PM


finally, some sensible equal rights.

Posted by: William Kurtz | November 12, 2008 7:56 PM


Posted by: B | November 13, 2008 9:38 AM

Posted by: jt | November 13, 2008 10:52 AM

Congrat's - wishing you all the best - this marks one of the greatest days in history, but most importantly, in your life together.

Cheers !!

Posted by: Mr. Stephen Peter Ross [TypeKey Profile Page] | November 13, 2008 11:03 AM


Sig, get over yourself.

Posted by: Lance | November 13, 2008 1:58 PM

not cool.

Posted by: HEIWA | November 13, 2008 4:36 PM



Posted by: Josh Smith | November 14, 2008 12:26 PM

Congrats to you both, and to all newly-wed couples in Connecticut!

Posted by: an old friend | November 16, 2008 11:28 AM

if anyone knows jennifer, please let her know lynn from boston says hello, and hello to r.

Posted by: Joe Mustich | November 25, 2008 1:09 PM

Congratulations to Jen and Peg!

And kudos to CT.

Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace
Washington CT 06793 USA

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