When Pamela Brown
got married, the two bride figurines atop her wedding
cake celebrated her newfound right in California to marry
another woman. But one of the figurines had a tiny
sign over its head with something more to say: ''Vote
No on 8.''
Brown and her
wife are among many same-sex couples whose nuptials are
made possible by the state supreme court's May 15 ruling
that legalized gay marriage.
But as these
couples say ''I do,'' they are threatened by the prospect
that California voters could overrule the
court's same-sex marriage decision by
approving the ballot initiative called Proposition 8 in
November. So many of them are using their weddings to do
something about it.
it very seriously,'' says Los Angeles wedding planner
Pamela Yager. ''It becomes, 'It's not just our union.' It
becomes a political message they're trying to get
Brown and her
partner, Shauna, even inserted language into their ceremony
in Berkeley that specifically referred to the fight against
the proposition. And guests could take home pamphlets,
bumper stickers, yard signs, and postcards, all
advocating ''No on 8.''
''If I had my
preference, I wouldn't bring politics into it. But we just
can't lose the moment and the opportunity when so many
friends and family are together,'' said Brown, who is
the policy director for Marriage Equality USA, a
nonprofit organization dedicated to securing gay marriage
But cake toppers
and pamphlets aren't the only way same-sex couples are
fighting Proposition 8, which would amend the state's
constitution to recognize only marriage between a man
and a woman.
Molly McKay plans
to marry her partner on September 1, and the two have
decided to participate in one of the more popular
anti-Proposition 8 wedding trends -- replacing a
traditional gift registry with a political version
that accepts donations to the ''No on 8'' campaign in lieu
So instead of
pulling up a wedding registry at Macy's, friends and family
can go online and give a donation in honor of the couple to
a registry sponsored by gay rights organizations such
as Equality California or the Human Rights Campaign.
''Nobody wants to
be political about their wedding day,'' said McKay,
media director for Marriage Equality USA. ''But we have to
do double duty. There's no other choice.''
For many couples
who have lived together in domestic partnerships or
civil unions, it only makes sense to forego expensive gifts
in favor of ensuring the long-term security of
''I couldn't bear
the thought of getting more things to dust in our
home,'' said Howard Bragman, a Los Angeles publicist who
married his partner of five years on July 14. ''We
thought the best thing we could do is to direct people
to give in honor of our wedding.''
The money from
most registries goes to Equality for All, which runs the
''No on 8'' campaign. So far, donations in honor of about
1,400 couples have generated approximately $300,000
for the campaign.
Allan Brauer, 50,
and Norberto Laboy-Brauer, 54, were somewhat
discouraged by the donations made in honor of their June 17
wedding in Sacramento.
disappointing thing is that all of the people who donated to
us were gay friends or couples,'' Brauer said. ''And so far
none of our blood relatives or straight friends have
actually contributed any money.''
publicity is another way gay weddings are being used to
support the fight against Proposition 8.
George Takei of
Star Trek fame and his partner, Brad
Altman, are working with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance
Against Defamation to publicize their September 14 wedding
in an effort to put a ''public face'' on the gay
marriage issue. The Human Rights Campaign, meanwhile,
has listed them as the first couple on their online
Takei, 71, and
Altman, 54, have also asked friends and family to make
donations in honor of the wedding to the Japanese-American
National Museum in Los Angeles, where they are holding
''We don't need
another toaster or another set of silverware,'' said
Takei, who is of Japanese ancestry. ''So we thought we'd
have people who want to celebrate with a gift, do that
with these two institutions.''
wedding planner, said same-sex couples have found other ways
to provide monetary support to defeating Proposition 8,
including purchasing wedding favors from vendors that
will then donate the proceeds to gay rights
The Los Angeles
Gay and Lesbian Center has made the process easier by
creating an online resource for same-sex couples. The site
lists more than 60 wedding businesses -- providing
everything from invitations to lighting -- that donate
to the center, which has given $200,000 to the No on 8
campaign, said spokesman Jim Key.
Then there is the
final touch on any wedding -- the thank-you note.
Yager says some
of her gay clients will not just send notes to their
guests but also to the California supreme court, expressing
gratitude for making their weddings possible.
Not all gay
couples are completely comfortable mixing nuptials and
Bill Walker, 51,
and Kelly Ziegler, 40, limited their activism to simple
donation cards next to the guest book. But Walker
acknowledges that politics weren't entirely absent
from their Los Angeles ceremony.
''The very fact
that we can get married, to some people, is a political
act,'' he said. (AP)