Am I an LGBTQ friendly wedding officiant? Absolutely!
Sometimes I’m still amazed when I get asked the question. It seems so long ago that same-sex marriage wasn’t legal. Today, it’s not same-sex marriage. It’s just marriage!
I've been marrying couples in Indiana for over 8 years. It's been a very interesting journey to watch the marriage laws change not only in Indiana but in our country.
June 24, 2014 - Surprise! You can get married!
June 24, 2014, was an amazing day in Indiana. It was the day same-sex couples had the right to marry! Nobody saw it coming. Nobody even realized it was close. If anything, we thought Indiana would be one of the last states to legalize gay marriage. I remember finding out. Facebook was on fire, my phone was filled with texts. I so badly wanted to do something that had never been done before! I was a wedding officiant and I wanted to find a couple to marry!
My kids were little and I couldn't get downtown to marry anyone that day. I was so excited when I did get the opportunity a few days later. A woman called to schedule one of my $50 quickie weddings as a surprise for her partner. I was still performing my $50 Quickies in my home then and my yard was filled with wildflowers that summer. It was exactly what they wanted because their own yard was filled with wildflowers they loved so much. It wasn’t the first time a bride sang to her beloved on their wedding day but it was definitely memorable. When they went to pay me I wanted to refuse their money just happy to have had the privilege of performing their wedding. They insisted on paying me because I would perform their wedding.
Friday, June 27, 2014 - Not so fast!
I married those two ladies on Friday, June 27, 2014. I'm not sure they got back to Richmond to file their marriage license before the emergency stay was placed on the decision to allow same-sex couples to marry. All I knew was, I signed the license and they were married! Mission accomplished! It seemed a little odd to everyone that it took so long to put that stay in place and send it to the court of appeals but we were all happy for the time we had.
On October 6, 2014, it was over.
On October 6, 2014, The Court of Appeals upheld the decision and everyone was free to marry. In June, the day the first decision came down allowing gay marriage, the clerk's office was open late and anyone who could perform a wedding was performing them right in the office. In October, it was business as usual.
As a professional wedding officiant, I was busy!! It was an incredibly exciting time. It was business as usual in the clerk's office but not business as usual for hundreds of couples in Indiana and couples traveling to Indiana in order to get legally married.
So many moving stories
I was absolutely blown away by all the couples I married. Couples who had been together for years and years. I was truly moved, meeting couples who were in committed relationships they weren't legally bound to stay in, yet they did.
I married one couple on their 40th anniversary. They had formally committed to their relationship on New Years Day at midnight. I married them at midnight in my living room. How could I not? I mean really? How cool is that? To be together for 40 years waiting for the day you can legally marry!
There were several happy couples getting ready to retire, happy their new spouses could enjoy the benefits they'd worked for. Many military veterans, happy to be able to add their spouses to their benefits - not only could they marry, they could be an openly gay married soldier. It seems so normal today, but there were many years when it was anything but.
There were so many tears of laughter and overwhelming joy and equal disbelief.
I had never understood the struggles same-gender couples can legally have when they have children. One couple was so happy to be married knowing their biological child would always be with their mother, either mother, whatever happened. There was an incredible sense of relief that filled the air when the papers were signed.
Couples were adopting children and making real families. Same gender couples could adopt children in Indiana but they couldn’t get legally married and create a real, legal family as recognized by the state. I had never understood that before. It was one of the facts the judge made their decision on. If you can legally adopt children you should be able to legally become married and create a legal family. I used to think just knowing you are a family was good enough.
Why I became a wedding officiant
When I decided to become a wedding officiant, my motivation was to be able to marry anyone any way they wanted to be married. I've always believed that love, itself, trumps everything. Love always wins in the end. It has to. I have to believe that, hope that, for my own sanity. I wanted to break the old paradigm that marriage, love, and relationships should only look one way in order to be right.
It's actually a very interesting thought when you look at love and relationships for what they are in their own personal perfection and then, try to somehow, fit it all into a preconceived mold that we call marriage in our society. Like, marriage is supposed to look a certain way.
We go from the freedom to love and express love any way we like, in a way that feels good and healthy to us, and then, in order to give it any sort of legal credibility we have to completely change it.
When I placed my first free ad on a, now defunct, wedding website several years ago I stated that I would marry anyone and that I was happy to perform commitment ceremonies. When I created my first website I said I'd perform your commitment ceremony now and marry you again for free when it was legal.
The very first call I got was from a couple that had hired a wedding officiant but the bride decided there was no way that man could marry them so they went looking again and found me. The bride said the reason she chose me was that I said I was LGBTQ friendly and she has a gay brother in San Francisco. I was happy to get my first booking, but even happier because of the reason I got it. I wanted to make a difference!
I still find it interesting that couples will choose me to marry them knowing that I’m LGBTQ friendly. They aren’t a same-gender couple, they just want an open-minded person to marry them.
The first commitment ceremony I did was for two women. One was a lesbian and the other declared herself straight. She said she still liked to look at men's butts in convenience stores but wanted to marry her partner because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her. They were in love and wanted to make a commitment. I remember marrying them in front of the fireplace in their home. They had written their vows on a paper plate. They had been talking on the phone about getting married and one of them wanted to write down the vows they were writing together. The only thing she could find to write on was a paper plate. Apparently, it got thrown in the trash at one point by accident but it was magically recovered.
It was in interesting time. I was talking about my job and explaining it to my son. He then had quite the time in kindergarten trying to convince the other kids on the playground that two women can get married and one of them can even be a grandma! He told me about it, not the teacher. :-)
After the rush
After a time, everyone was married. Not everyone, but many of those who had been waiting, was. Now, gay marriage is just like any other marriage. I like it that way. Equality. Before gay marriage, crazy straight couples were running down to the courthouse to get married on a whim and getting divorced a few months later. Now, gay couples can do that too! And yes, they do. To be fair, there gay couples that have been together for years that didn’t rush to get married. They get married when they actually need to. With all long-term couples, when they do get married, I ask “why now?’ The answer is always, “because it’s time.”
Times are changing!
Last year, I married two young women who got saved while in basic training. That statement really says it all. Not so long ago, gay and Christian didn't really go together. Neither did openly gay and the military. The only weird part of their story is why they hired me. Apparently, their pastor was more than happy to marry them, however, to go along with the ceremony he would have to use, one of them would have to be the husband and the other would have to be the wife. I'm not sure I quite understood the story correctly. They were a sweet couple and I was happy to marry them!
I've learned a lot over the past 4 years and I'm still learning. I had a young woman sit across from me at my kitchen table and explain gender fluidity to me. I was so happy that she took the time to explain it to me because I really didn't understand and I really didn't know how to ask without possibly offending anyone. I had a hard time keeping my pronouns straight at my first transgender wedding. But I'm open. My heart is in the right place and I want to learn and I want to understand.
As a wedding officiant, it's really rare now to have awkward situations at LGBTQ weddings. While there was a time I was hired to perform the wedding because there was “a situation” with someone’s sexual preference and it was a big deal. It might be a brother or a sister or a person in the bridal party. Today, If there are troublemakers, they simply aren't invited. Nobody has time for that.
Sometimes, the people in our lives that we love have a hard time putting gay and marriage together. I'm happy to offer my services in those situations, as a person that is open and neutral. I'm not going to take one side or the other. I'm going to find common ground and concentrate on that. Your wedding is about declaring your love and devotion, vowing to be there through anything. It really doesn't matter what gender you are, what color you are or what you're wearing. It's about love.
If you are looking for a wedding Officiant to marry you in Indianapolis or anywhere in Indiana, I’d love to have the opportunity to officiate your wedding. No matter your situation, I’d hope I have the open heart and the open mind to help make your wedding day special and magical. If you have any questions about my services, please ask. I’m happy to help.