CLEVELAND, Ohio – More than 200 gay and lesbian couples from across the state of Ohio gathered in traditional wedding attire on Saturday to participate in what organizers called the “largest illegal mass wedding ever held.”
The event was organized to highlight discrimination faced by same-sex couples in Ohio, one of 30 U.S. states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
“With recent (marriage equality) victories in New York, Washington, and Maryland, the momentum for marriage equality has never been more powerful,” said Ed Mullen of Equality Ohio.
Hundreds of friends and relatives of the brides and grooms joined the celebration as eight priests and ministers recited marriage vows to couples of all ages, reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The afternoon ceremony followed more than an hour of speeches by activists on the steps of Cleveland City Hall, where a gay pride flag flew under the American flag.
The rally was spearheaded on Facebook by “Support Gay Marriage in Ohio,” which has over 200,000 fans.The page is the brainchild of Adam Hoover, a 17-year old from Harrison, Ohio, who has organized previous rallies in Cincinnati and Columbus.
“I want every person to be able to be who they are. We want the same things as all couples do — to settle down, to commit our lives to the person we love, and to raise children,” said Hoover. “Marriage should not be a privilege available to some but not all.”
In 2004, 62 percent of Ohio voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The amendment also prohibited the state from creating or recognizing any other legal status that would “approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage,” such as civil unions.