Equality al fresco: Mayor marries gay couples en masse at Druid Hill Park

Mass wedding celebrates new law making gay marriage legal in Maryland.

gay wedding 2

Married en masse at the Pride Festival by the mayor, in the first year of legal gay marriage in Maryland – the couples beamed.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Wearing sparkling gold pendants and white polo shirts, clutching flowers and at times each other, the two men explained how their decision to join today’s mass wedding at Druid Hill Park was intuitive and personal.

“We’ve been together for seven years and we realized, it’s just time,” Kevin Gabel-Cimino said, smiling at Joel Gabel-Cimino, as they waited to exchange vows.

But something more, they said, compelled them to get married, joining 18 other same-sex couples, in a public ceremony officiated by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – something political.

Del. Mary Washington said "I couldn't NOT be here today!" (Photo by Fern Shen)

Del. Mary Washington: “I couldn’t NOT be here today!” (Photo by Fern Shen)

“The idea that we could do it legally now in Maryland, that we could do it in public with other people – when we heard about this, it was like ‘Oh no, we just have to do it,” Kevin said.

Joel explained that the two of them took part in canvassing in their Overlea neighborhood when Maryland’s landmark gay marriage legislation came before voters in the November election.

“We just wanted to be part of history,” said another of the couple’s, Lisa Tilton and Maria Valentine, in between photo ops with multiple family members before the ceremony began. “And we really like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake!”

“We were going to get married at our ten-year anniversary and it’s two years away but this came up and we just had to do it,” said Tilton, explaining some of the couple’s other plans, including opening up a pizza and sub shop together in Essex.

Results of Our Hard Work

As the time drew near for the 2:30 ceremony, and the mayor appeared to be delayed, speakers whooped up the crowd and led them at one point in a group rendition of “What a Wonderful World.”

“We worked so hard on the legislation in Annapolis and then the fight at the ballot box, and now to see the results of our hard work with this happy day,” said Del. Mary Washington, one of the leaders of the marriage equality fight, speaking with The Brew before the nuptials began. Many eyes on the stage and in the audience welled with tears.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiating at the marriage of 17 same-sex couples in Druid Hill Park. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiating at the marriage of  19 same-sex couples in Druid Hill Park. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Years of  legislative battles, debate and often ugly words uttered online, on talk radio and in Annapolis hearing rooms were now in the past for this crowd, which was focused instead on celebrating love and commitment. (And, for some, wedding planning. There were vendors selling rings, wedding cruises, wedding cakes and more at this Pride Festival, part of the annual Baltimore Pride Celebration.)

Finally, Mother Meredith Moise announced the arrival of Her Honor (“Is that a black SUV I see?”) and soon the mayor, in a formal (and perhaps vaguely clerical) black dress and with a proclamation in hand, took to the stage.

“We Do”

As the couples, in kilts, white tuxes and fancy wedding dresses or simply-matching casual clothes, stood on a stage below her, Rawlings-Blake read  from her piece of paper, proclaiming June 16:

“We Do, Baltimore Day in celebration of marriage equality in Baltimore and in the State of Maryland. Whereas Marylanders made history in November 2012 as they voted to make same sex marriage legal, recognizing that all families are equal before the eyes of the law. . .”

She went on but pretty soon got to the “do you take your partner to be your wedded husband or wife?” part and the “in sickness and in health” and all those other sobering clauses that make couples look into each others’ eyes.

And they kissed and laughed and cried and the crowd whooped and cheered. Afterwards they ate from a stack of rainbow colored cupcakes and, in a light rain, headed home.

Lisa Tilton and Maria Valentine preparing for the wedding ceremony. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Lisa Tilton and Maria Valentine preparing for the wedding ceremony. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Mayor Rawlings-Blake officiated from off to the side and let the couples she was marrying take center stage. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Mayor Rawlings-Blake officiated from off to the side and let the couples she was marrying take center stage. (Photo by Fern Shen)

The crowd assembled to watch the mass wedding at the 2013 Pride Festival. (Photo by Fern Shen)

The crowd assembled to watch the mass wedding at the 2013 Pride Festival. (Photo by Fern Shen)

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  • sJames6621

    I was there and saw the beatiful ceremony , cheers to the mayor and the ewly married couples

    On the way to my car I stopped and talked to an African American woman who is a teacher in the Balt schools

    To show you the horrid influence of right wing churches, she told me how she had a kid in her class who was gay and was kicked out of house and home

    Welcome to right wing xtianity ‘s idea of love.

    • Henry

      Right wing churches? Is that who you’re blaming for your sin? Spin, spin, spin that sin.

      • Mary

        no, the right wing churches are the ones creating the polarization and the stigma.

  • James Hunt

    sJames6621 wrote: … Welcome to right wing xtianity ‘s idea of love.
    Thomas Aquinas wrote that “love is a will to the good of the other.” One cannot look at the devastating effects sexual promiscuity has had on our society — particularly among homosexuals — and say that promoting same-sex relationships is a “will to the good of the other.” It’s rather a willful blindness to reality promulgated by those guided by sentimentalism — or in the case of politicians, a desire for votes — rather than an understanding of biology.

  • ushanellore

    James Hunt, heterosexuals have been promiscuous over the centuries too–promiscuity is not a monopoly of the homosexuals–don’t tell me you oppose homosexuality because it breeds more promiscuity than heterosexuality. What the homosexuals do, labeled as sin, the heterosexuals do one better or one worse–this is reality.

    • James Hunt

      Gracious and esteemed interlocutor: your analysis is not supported by — or even remotely related to — what I wrote. Please re-read my comment and note that “particularly among homosexuals” is a subordinate clause modifying the clause beginning with “devastating effects …” It should be clear that I’m not proposing that homosexuals have a monopoly on promiscuity, only that they suffer more from its ill effects. Mark Steyn wrote some years ago that “nature is not sympathetic to sexual promiscuity.” One might have thought that the tremendous suffering and death AIDS has wrought would suffice to demonstrate this. Apparently not.

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