Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros considered canceling a concert scheduled in Raleigh, N.C. on Friday, but ultimately decided the show must go on — to make a statement.
The indie band was torn over whether to play in North Carolina in light of the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law known as House Bill 2, which requires trans people to use bathrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity, rescinds all LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, and bars residents for suing for discrimination in state court.
"HB 2 was passed by an immoral minority – North Carolina has many thriving, creative, modern communities," lead singer Alex Ebert said in a statement reported by Rolling Stone. "We were tempted to cancel the show, but decided at the last minute to rally the crowd instead by renewing the vows of our good friends onstage."
As the band played the opening notes of its smash hit “Home,” Ebert shared a story with the estimated 2,500 people who had gathered for the show at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Theater in the Park. It was a story of a pair of “good friends” of the singer who recently got married. But Ebert lamented that he wasn’t able to attend the wedding.
“And I thought, since I was so pissed off, that it would be the right thing if I was able to marry them myself,” said Ebert. “Or get them to re-pledge their vows; how about that?”
The crowd went wild as Ebert introduced production designer Jack Ryan and Dan Mathews, the senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After the sustained cheering died down, Ebert launched into the ceremony, asking the couple:
“Jack, and Daniel, do you promise to love as freely as you want for life, and to be able to express that whenever, and wherever you are, as long as you shall be together, so help you love?”
“Hell yeah!” Mathews responded. His husband offered a more subdued, “Oh yeah.”
“Then Jack, and Daniel,” continued Ebert. “I now pronounce you: Jack Daniels.”
The couple exchanged a passionate kiss, prompting the crowd to once again cheer uproariously. Ebert performed the rest of the song with his arms around the the couple, who shook hands with the eager audience from the stage.
This isn’t the first time Mathews and his husband have locked lips to protest North Carolina’s anti-LGBT laws, notes Towleroad. Back in 2012, after voters in the state passed Amendment 1, which barred marriage equality in the state, Mathews and Ryan snapped a photo of themselves sharing a kiss as the two men sprawled out across the top of a sign marking the North Carolina Republican Party’s headquarters in Raleigh.
Watch the couple’s vow renewal ceremony on stage in Raleigh below, as captured by YouTube user Richard Bootes.