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May 18, 2004

Some gay couples avoid three-day wait to wed

Gay couples who arrived at courts around the state yesterday smiling, holding hands, some carrying single long-stem roses, were ushered before judges more accustomed to navigating the tense issues of divorce and child custody than the joyful rush to marry.

“It was a switch to have people who were really excited and so happy,” said Maxine Rocaberte, deputy assistant register at Middlesex Probate Court, who sat at a table in the lobby of the Cambridge courthouse handing out waiver forms and directing gay couples to courtrooms, where judges quickly approved the requests, permitting couples to marry immediately. Without the waiver, a three-day wait is required after the marriage license is issued.

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By 7:30 yesterday morning, about a half-dozen gay couples, mostly women, were standing outside Second District Court in Orleans, waiting for the doors to open so they could seek waivers and marry immediately.

Applause and cheers erupted with the arrival of Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies, who were among the seven couples who filed the lawsuit that led to the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

The couple, both clinical social workers, said they were marrying yesterday on Nauset Beach, then would hold a bigger, more traditional wedding at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Brewster on July 11. “We figure after 33 years we’re entitled to two weddings,” Bailey said.

“We’re eloping today,” said Pamela Besold, 44, a Boston police officer, who planned to marry her partner of six years, Kim Godsoe, 36, an assistant dean at Brandeis University, yesterday afternoon at Cambridge City Hall.

The couple said they’re planning a “real wedding” with 65 guests next month but were afraid to wait that long to make it legal. “I think anybody who reads the newspapers can’t help but realize what a fragile and wonderful thing this is. . . .” Godsoe said. “We must take advantage of it now.”

The couple said they were surprised by the crush of well-wishers, from clapping bystanders to honking motorists to those who just wanted to hug them.

Besold and Godsoe were among 32 same-sex couples who received waivers yesterday from judges at Middlesex Probate and Family Court in Cambridge. At Suffolk Probate and Family Court in Boston, court officials said 15 gay couples received waivers yesterday. Most couples said they were planning weddings yesterday on beaches, in backyards, and at city halls.

“It’s been 27 years that we’ve waited,” said Jacques Abatto of the South End as he left the Suffolk courthouse with his companion, David Goldman, to be married by a justice of the peace. “I’m hoping this isn’t going to be an issue in two years, that people will realize that the world isn’t going to stop because we got married.”

Angela Giudice, 50, and Nia-Sue Mitchum, 56, of Roxbury, who have been together for 19 years, were accompanied to the Suffolk probate court by their 9-year-old son, Mario, who seemed unimpressed by the significance of what was happening. “I’m bored,” he said.

“I’m hoping that today communicates to him the seriousness of our relationship,” Giudice said. “We are not like all other families and we don’t pretend to be. But the dedication is no less.”

The couple planned to marry yesterday afternoon near the pond at Franklin Park.

As Rita Field, 60, a chiropractor, and Mariann Samaha, 53, a lawyer, waited for their waiver, they listened quietly as a man and woman who had two children were granted a divorce after telling a judge their marriage was beyond salvation.

“It was sobering,” said Samaha, who admitted ythat it made her think about her 20-year relationship with Field, which she is confident will last. “We know everything there is to know about each other.”

“There are no surprises,” said Field, except the fact that they finally can marry after all these years.

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