“Celebrating One Year of Marriage Equality in New Jersey”
~ Rev. Emilie Boggis
Last December I entered the chapel at the UUA where the first legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts took place. There stands a portrait of The Rev. Bill Sinkford, then UUA President who officiated the wedding, wearing his beautifully hand-woven rainbow stole. Our 9th grade Coming of Agers sit together in the chapel each year to hear the story of the many Unitarian Universalists who were involved in making history. Last year, of course, our group heard the story with a greater sense of pride. Our home state of New Jersey had just passed marriage equality, and UCS had been a big part of that push.
This month marks the first anniversary of NJ marriage equality. This time last fall UCS was waist-deep in pushing for marriage equality. In collaboration with UU Legislative Ministries of NJ, I had the honor of attending a special constituent meeting with Jon Bramnick alongside fellow members. We spoke candidly of our support of marriage equality. UCS members were also calling their representatives and working polling stations. Social hour and youth group became a time to write letters to our elected representatives. All of us stayed tune for regular updates.
When marriage equality became law in New Jersey on October 21st, UCS went into celebration mode. We kicked off the celebration with the marriage of our own minister, Kim Tomaszewski to her wife, Tara Wildhagen (Kim now serves the Washington Crossing congregation). We then waived our ministerial fees for weddings of same-sex couples for the first full year. And the whole year has been filled with weddings, love, commitment and families!
Weddings of couples who had been together for decades. Weddings of couples who had had a religious ceremony followed by a civil union followed now by a marriage ceremony. Weddings of couples who had little children and grown children. Just last week a newcomer introduced me to his partner. His partner corrected him with a smile on his face, “I’m your husband now.” The newcomer smiled back, “It still feels so new.”
Twenty states in the USA have also passed marriage equality. In the thirty states where marriage equality is still prohibited, you better believe that Unitarian Universalists are out in force. Watch the “Standing on the Side of Love” video to see the larger movement which we share!
Happy Anniversary, New Jersey!
Marriage Equality Resources
- National Coming Out Day: October 11, 2014
- Anniversary of Marriage Equality in NJ: October 21, 2013
- Standing on the Side of Love blog posts on freedom to marry efforts
- Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages, by Patricia A Gozemba and Karen Kahn
- Gay Marriage, Real Life: Ten Stories of Love and Family, by Michelle Bates Deakin
- Interview with Zach Wahl’s on the future of marriage equality: Part One,Part Two