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

Asked to pick a reading for friends’ July 11 wedding at a historic courthouse in Stillwater, Minnesota, Ann Vardeman chose Kennedy’s words, too. Vardeman, 32, had considered reading a Bruce Springsteen song but ditched that idea after reading Kennedy’s concluding paragraph.

Couples planning fall weddings also said they’d be using Kennedy’s words. Lucy Moyer, 65, and Joyce Tipton, 58, are including the words in their Oct. 10 wedding in the backyard of their Fulshear, Texas, home. The couple, who have been together more than a decade, decided on the day of the ruling that it was finally time to marry.

“Even though Justice Kennedy will never know this, it’s a little bit of a way of saying thank you,” Tipton said.

Kennedy declined through a court spokeswoman to comment on his newfound place in couples’ nuptials. Unlike some of his colleagues, he doesn’t officiate at weddings and has not performed weddings for same-sex couples as justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan have.

But if he’s like Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the author of the opinion legalizing same-sex marriages in that state, he’s surprised. Marshall said that while she now routinely hears about weddings where her opinion was cited, she was initially startled.

“When one writes an opinion, any opinion, you don’t anticipate that it will be read at somebody’s wedding or in any other situation,” said Marshall, who retired in 2010.

Emily and Jillian Smith, the couple who were texting each other about Kennedy’s words soon after they were public, said a few people cheered when Kennedy’s words were introduced during the wedding ceremony

“It made me choke up,” Emily Smith said. “I kind of do every time I hear it.”

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