Connells county’s first same-sex couple to wed

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Courtesy photos
The Connells and their family.

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer


July 8, 2015, became a milestone day in Van Zandt County.

At his Wills Point office, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Herbert Dunn officiated the wedding of Jerry Rosengartner and Paul Connell.

With the ceremony, Rosengartner and Connell became the first couple to be married in Van Zandt County since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling June 26 gave same-sex pair the right to legally wed.

The couple actually got their marriage license in Kaufman County but came back to Van Zandt County for the ceremony. Connell, 48, has been a resident of the Wills Point area for the past 15 years. Rosengartner, 24, has here six years. They have been a couple for the past six years.

Rosengartner, who said he will take the last name Connell, spoke with the Van Zandt News shortly after the wedding ceremony. He gave some details about the couple, as well as his thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision and making history as the first same-sex couple in the county to exchange wedding vows.

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex couple’s to legally marry will have a positive impact on the Rosengartner-Connell family, the new Mr. Connell said.  “I thought it was great!,” he said. “I mean, it opened up a lot of windows for us. We really didn’t have any windows when we were shut down right there. I couldn’t get him on my insurance or anything like that. I couldn’t take care of him like I should be. It’s just opened up a lot of windows for us and I’m very appreciative.”

Family members and friends have always backed the couple throughout their relationship, including their decision to marry after the court’s ruling, Jerry Connell said.

Several family members accompanied them to the civil ceremony conducted at the Precinct 3 justice of the peace office. “Oh yes, they’ve been supportive,” Jerry Connell said. “Definitely.”

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, Jerry Connell said he believes more same-sex couples will seek to legalize their unions.

“I think it’s going to pave a way for other same sex couples that might be on the edge of it, but now that it’s accepted, they’ll know it’ll be accepted,” he said. “Our thoughts on it: It’s great! It’s awesome! It’s just a great experience overall.”

The couple didn’t have any immediate plans for a honeymoon, but didn’t discount one in the future. “We have a daughter that’s been with us ever since she was 5,” Jerry Connell said. “We’re looking towards going on a honeymoon, a little vacation, but not right now.”

Dunn said he handled the ceremony the same way he has performed weddings for heterosexual couples. “It was no different than any other wedding,” the JP said.


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