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Gay and lesbian couples tie the knot in Iowa

Gay and lesbian couples tie the knot in Iowa

Several gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa last week unofficially tied the knot over the weekend during a blessing ceremony performed by a minister. "I think it's important for us to stand up together," said Connie Jarvis of Davenport after exchanging vows with her partner, Pat Hooper, at the service at Duck Creek Park. "The public can think what they want to think. What's important to us is having our family and friends here." Gay advocacy groups Equality Quad-Cities and Quad-Citians Affirming Diversity organized Sunday's ceremonies, which were performed by Rich Henricks, a pastor from Metropolitan Community Church in Oak Park, Ill. "With the need for legal recognition for the rights of gay and lesbian folks, I think people are taking a fresh look at what commitment means," Henricks said. "I think it's wonderful that people feel free to do this. It's claiming our identity in a public way." More than 15 gay couples had their relationships blessed privately Sunday by Henricks during services at the MCC church in Davenport. Henricks traveled to Davenport for the ceremonies because the local church doesn't have a pastor. Scott VanDeWoestyne, executive director of Quad-Citians Affirming Diversity, applauded the couples' courage. "You are talking about the strength of love and the strength of commitment and the strength to say in front of people that we deserve the same rights as everyone else," he told the couples.

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