Justice Kennedy’s words sparkle in gay and straight wedding ceremonies

Kennedy’s opinion isn’t the first to make it into a marriage ceremony. After a 2003 Massachusetts court decision made the state the first to legalize gay marriage, many couples used language from that opinion. Less frequently but still regularly, couples chose words from a 2010 ruling invalidating Proposition 8, a California ballot measure that had made same-sex marriages illegal.

But Kennedy’s opinion, quoted in news articles and shared on Facebook, seems to have won an even wider audience, even as legal experts on both the left and right have called it short on legal reasoning and knocked it for sentimentality.

Lindsay Powell, 28, called Kennedy’s prose “poetic without being cliche.” She said it just “felt right” to include his words in her wedding to Robert Banuski, 28, on July 18 in Skaneateles, New York, because she’ll always connect this summer with the ruling.

Jamie Dee Schiffer, a Virginia-based wedding officiant, said about two dozen couples — about half of them gay — have asked her to include the words.

Bernadette Smith, a wedding planner and the founder of the New York-based Gay Wedding Institute, which trains those in the wedding industry on working with gay couples, predicted it would soon become “the most popular same-sex marriage ceremony reading.” And celebrants from places including Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania acknowledged quickly adding Kennedy’s words to packets of potential readings they give couples.

Couples who have used the words in recent months have found different ways of incorporating them. Michael Templeton, 37, and Greg Costa, 44, printed the words on the front of the program for their July 2 wedding at the Providence Public Library in Rhode Island. Molly and Danny Ramirez-Gaston, both 25, used Kennedy’s words before their vows at their video-game-themed wedding July 5 at a country club in Warrenton, Virginia, though they didn’t advertise where the words came from to avoid potentially offending guests.

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