Gay Marriage Goes to Church!


Happy Same-Sex Sunday, 2.0!

Last Sunday, the first day same-sex marriage was legal, weddings were performed largely in civil ceremonies. Government marriage bureaus were opened specially across the city and state, and volunteer judges were on hand to grant waivers so that people (some who’d been waiting decades) could avoid the normal 24 hour waiting period. While some rabbis and ministers were on hand to perform ceremonies at borough halls, most were done by judges, and all happened rather quickly.

For those wanting to get married in a house of worship, the logistics of getting the license and planning a ceremony took a little longer. Last Tuesday night, civil rights pioneers Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz got married at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Yesterday was the first time LGBT Christians could conceivably plan to get married during a regular Sunday service. And so, after the eleven weddings we attended last Sunday, plus taking in one we ran into on the street completely by accident during the week, we witnessed five more happy couples tie the knot yesterday in two different venues.

Our first stop was Middle Collegiate Church, part of the four collegiate churches in the city that make up the oldest continuous protestant congregation in the United States, and long a supporter of LGBT civil rights. (Disclosure: we used to be a member there.) While the church had long performed same-sex weddings, it had never done so with the power of the state to make them legal prior to yesterday.

Three couples stood before a packed congregation, in a normal Sunday service that was all about their unions. They were Jeremy Price and Alex Bertrand (who had posed with the volunteer twin flower girls last week as they got their marriage license at Brooklyn Borough Hall), Kelebohile Nkhereanye and Renee Boyd (who were assaulted last week at Brooklyn Borough hall by a male shock jock wanting to know why they weren’t attracted to him, until Renee, quite literally, kicked him in the ass), and Marvin Rodriguez and Vaughn Lindquist.

Though the three couples were wed in a joint ceremony, they each had their own moment and unique vows. Each had been partnered in some formal sense before, but none had been recognized in church since same-sex marriage was the law of the land. When the minister, Reverend Jacqui Lewis, pronounced them legally wed by “the powers vested in me by the State of New York,” the congregation gave them a standing ovation.

Our next stop was the New York Marrython at Belvedere Castle, sponsored by Rainbow Wedding Clergy. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in Central Park, and interfaith minister Reverend Alison Caiola married a dozen couples at the beautiful location, overlooking the Turtle Pond and the Delacorte Theater.

The first couple we saw there who married were Jose Zuleda and Russell Krueger, two dapper gentlemen who looked great in their black tuxedos, despite the heat.

“True love never dies,” Rev. Alison said to the couple who had been together 14 years and waiting to marry for a long time. “This, we know.”

About forty people – a mix of friends and family, plus a smattering of curious American and international tourists, watched the ceremony. A young tourist boy, who appeared no more than ten years old, came up wanting to congratulate the grooms afterwards.

Next up was a lesbian Latina couple dressed entirely in white, Elizabeth De Jesus and Margaret Irizarry. They had been together since they were 20, some 42 years ago. Before the ceremony, a photographer asked the couple to say “cheese” while taking their picture.

“Sex!” Elizabeth replied loudly instead.

“Not until after you’re married!” a friend yelled.

Margaret and Elizabeth were our 17th, and final for awhile, we think, couple we’d seen get hitched in the past couple of weeks (18th if you count a straight couple we celebrated getting married on July 23rd, the last day it was something only heterosexual New Yorkers could do). But after four decades, Margaret and Elizabeth were a reminder to us that love is always fun to report upon, and that, reporter or not, the union of two people committing their lives to each other is always a beautiful thing to witness.