Ever-ready for publicity, the Naked Cowboy, Robert Burck, has thrown his support behind the movement for marriage equality in New York and declared July 3rd “Gay Marriage Day.” To celebrate the holiday, Burck, who happens to be an ordained minister, will be performing free same-sex wedding ceremonies in Times Square all day on Sunday, July 3 — and every July 3 that follows. Via press release, he said “I’m not a homosexual or a hypocrite, I am an American. It is hypocritical, in my opinion, for our legislature to discriminate against gays and lesbians regarding same-sex marriages. Gay & Lesbian Americans should be provided the same freedom and equal rights as heterosexuals allowing them to be legally wed if they so desire, and it should be regarded as ‘moral’ for anyone to be willing to commit to a monogamous relationship bound in holy matrimony.” We spoke with him today to find out more.
Can you tell me more about your status as an ordained minister?
I’ve been an official minister since November 22, 2008. I have a certificate from Universal Ministries to prove it.
What do you have to do to become ordained?
You fill out something online, you pay 10 bucks, they send it through the mail. We’re doing this whole thing to create awareness that I’m a minister. I marry people year round for $499 a ceremony.
How many weddings have you performed?
I think I’ve done about 12. I don’t have an exact count, though. I’ve married this one guy five times.
What is the typical wedding like?
It’s pretty incredible. We perform the service on the bleachers, and Times Square is always packed full of people, so it feels like the whole world is at your wedding. I can make it as long or as short as you want it. The whole thing generally lasts about 15 minutes though.
Last year, you announced that you were going to run for president on a conservative platform. How does that fit with this effort?
The Republican Party never called me, so it was just a good story. I don’t think you have to believe in a viewpoint to represent as a politician. In the same way, I’m not gay, and I come from Cincinnati, Ohio, where things are a little more rigid. One man, one woman, you know. I still think that if the people of NYC believe in gay marriage, I should give the people what they want. I can also understand what gay people go through. Especially the more homophobic people look at me and think, “Who’s that gay guy?”
What will you do if the gay marriage bill doesn’t pass?
Well, you know, even if it doesn’t pass, I’m still gonna perform my weddings. They won’t be legal, but people renew their vows all the time. It’s a sentimental thing. If a gay couple wanted to do that, who’s going to stop them? I don’t think it’s illegal for me to perform these weddings, but I mean, even if it is, how seriously are people gonna take a guy playing guitar in his underwear? I guess my status as an ordained minister might make it a little bit more serious, but I’m just trying to throw my fame behind a good cause.