Last Sunday, November 23, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg in South Carolina offered free walk-in marriage ceremonies to celebrate marriage equality.
Photographers offered their time to take photos of the weddings, and a local bakery donated cupcakes. The Unitarian Universalist Church is known as one of the most LGBT-friendly religious groups on the record, and church officials emphasized during the ceremonies that all the weddings performed were not just in the eyes of the church, but also legal unions.
The Rev. Michelle Buhite, who performed the ceremonies, said the day’s activities were a natural fit for her church, as the congregation is committed to the Unitarian Universalist creed of civil rights and social justice for all. While her ceremony is the same for gay and straight couples, Buhite said she intentionally emphasized the word ‘legal’ throughout the proceedings.
“That’s the big thing, to have their union legally sanctioned. These couples have already made their commitments to one another,” she said.
Beth York brushed tears from her eyes as she watched Mayes and Hemphill celebrate matrimony. Moments before, York married her partner of 20 years, Barbara Ester, at the same altar.
“I was more emotional the second time because I heard it,” she said.
Oops, crying again. In South Carolina, where it can be really tough to be LGBT, this is damn beautiful.