May 20th, 2014, was the day the the marriage ban on same sex unions was lifted in Pennsylvania, and LGBTQ couples could finally legally marry. This would be my introduction to officiating weddings, which has now become my full-time career.
My first wedding was an elopement for two men in their 70s, on June 2nd, 2014. They never thought they’d see the day when they could legally marry and they quietly tied the knot in Bethlehem, PA. Instead of rings, Scott and Adam exchanged beautiful hand-crafted bracelets they had made on one of their international trips.
This was a life-changing experience for me, and I decided to seek endorsement through the Humanist Society to become a Humanist Celebrant. I found their stand with social issues such as equality, to be in alignment with mine.
Some of my first weddings were quiet elopements with couples who were almost apologetic when finding me online, and cautiously asking if I would agree to marry them. I was quick to put them at ease and to let them know that it was truly an honor and privilege to unite them in marriage. Whether in a public park, or a private yard, the sense of joy was overwhelming.
There were some who had been planning for this day for years and just waiting for the time when the laws would change to celebrate with a fabulous party. Bill and Mike were one of my first ‘big’ same-sex wedding couples. Planning for this celebration was so much fun, and the two of them have become wonderful friends.
The Humanist Society asked if I would write an article for TheHumanist.com about my experience with officiating same-sex weddings and my participation in our local LGBT Wedding Expo. These were exciting times, and one could not help but feel that we were all a part of history being made.
One of our local venues, The Glasbern Inn, asked me to participate in a photoshoot, as they wanted to get the word out that they were LGBTQ friendly. This was in response to publicity about wedding venues, bakeries, etc., who were opposed to working with gay couples. For this stylized shoot, there was representation from a variety of local wedding professionals, all in support of our new laws and our LGBTQ community.
Over these past five years, I have officiated dozens of same-sex weddings. Each an honor. Each a reminder of the continued need to fight for equality. Each a reminder of the truth in the phrase: Love is Love.
One year after Pennsylvania lifted the ban on same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage to be legal and recognized in all 50 states. Justice Kennedy was charged with writing the Court’s opinion and shared the following closing remarks:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Here’s to celebrating five years of Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania! And for me personally – I am overjoyed to celebrate five years of officiating weddings for all couples!