Robbie Cronrod and Allen Artcliff need your vote. The Los Angeles couple are in the running to win a $100,000 wedding in Crate & Barrel's Ultimate Wedding contest, and if they gather enough votes (they're currently in second place) and meet enough of the furniture store's criteria, they could be the first same-sex couple to win the prize. Cronrod, 34, and Artcliff, 38, would be thrilled to have a blowout reception in Los Angeles (their ceremony will be in Boston), but they say they're doing this to make a point about marriage equality. The couple's efforts to ratchet up more votes by the time the contest closes on April 30 have cost them hours of sleep and incurred a steady steam of intolerance from some observers, including gay people. Sharing an iPhone to talk to The Advocate, Cronrod and Artcliff told us why this contest means so much to them.
Below, see a video from Cronrod's grandparents in support of marriage equality.
The Advocate: So, first tell us how the contest works.
Robbie Cronrod: There’s one prize that’s just based off of top votes (a $7,500 Crate & Barrel gift card). The actual grand prize, winning the wedding, has a couple of factors involved. There’s a total of 100 points broken out into five segments of 20. The first segment of 20 points is based on the number of votes, so if you get in the top 10 votes, you get the full 20 points. The next three sets of 20 points are based on how well you’ve answered three questions: what’s your love story, what’s your dream wedding, and what’s your dream home. Those are judged by Crate & Barrel and Yifat Oren, who is the wedding coordinator that the winning couple gets to help plan the wedding. The last 20 points is based off of the photos you provided; how well do those photos represent you as a couple and represent how you answered those questions.
You guys plan on getting married in L.A.?
Allen Artcliff: Since we can’t legally get married in L.A., the plan is to go back to Boston and have our ceremony and come back to Los Angeles to have the party and celebrate with all our friends and family and all the media that’s been supporting us.
Why did you guys want to do this?
Robbie: Because everyone keeps seeing marriage equality in the news, but everything you see in the news is generally about a judge, a politician, or a courtroom, and we wanted to do this to put a face on marriage equality. We thought it was really important for people to see a couple that’s been in a loving relationship and who cares about each other and really wants to get married. It’s why we entered the contest; it’s why we’re trying to win. Because we know if we win, there’ll be media attention over a gay couple winning a national competition. We think it’s really important for the general public to see a gay couple, a lesbian couple, in a relationship. That it’s not about sex, it’s about two people in love. What I keep saying to everyone is that I asked Artcliff to marry me, I didn’t ask him to domestic-partnership or civil-partnership me. And it’s really unfortunate that I can’t marry him in California and most of the other states.
Is it right that Cronrod came out not to long before you guys met?
Allen: Robbie didn’t really come out until after we met. He wasn’t even out to himself when we met. I guess he was looking for something and we met [on Match.com] and he wasn’t out to himself or his family, but I supported him and let him do what he needed to do and let him do it in the time he needed to do it — that’s what a partner does, he gives him support, and eventually he came out. He did it when he was ready to do it, but I had been out for years, so I knew exactly what he was going through and I was able to support him through the process.
What’s the feedback back been?
Robbie: We are getting
tons of positive feedback, but we still get negative feedback. If we
post on Facebook or our friends post and say, “Vote for these guys,
they’re trying to win a wedding contest,” people will make a rude
comment and some of them will get more profane. But we also got some
hate mail, I guess you could call it, saying, “What are you doing?
You’re going against God.” But for all the hate we’ve gotten, we’ve
gotten plenty more positive messages. We’ve gotten messages from parents
telling us we’re role models. These people told us their son is gay but
is not out, not even out to himself, but they know he’s gay — he asks
questions and has seen our website and his mom asked if he does have
questions, would we be willing to talk to him. We said absolutely — she
didn’t know who else he could talk to. We had this guy in high school
contact us and said if he friended us on Facebook, could we remove the
notice that we became friends and not post on our wall because his mom
is on Facebook, but he needed a friend to talk to because he’s gay. It’s
cool we’re getting through to some people. We’ve had other couples in
relationships for 40 and 50 years e-mailing us that they love how we’re
bringing this to the public eye. We’ve had the Trevor Project, GLAAD,
Freedom to Marry, and Marriage Equality USA contact us and show support.
Allen: Sadly, some of the negative press is coming from other
LGBT individuals — it’s weird. Again, our big push is the wedding would be
great, but it’s more about the message. But a lesbian contacted us and
went off on a tirade about how we were being selfish because entering
this contest could take away a dream wedding away for someone who
deserved it, and we’re making it all about marriage equality.
She said there’s people in the contest suffering from cancer and other
diseases and they need this wedding because they have a disease or
they’re broke and we’re taking away this opportunity from them. But she
doesn’t understand the point of the contest — it’s not about who’s broke
and who has cancer, which is all unfortunate, but it’s about who has the
best love story, who has the best dream wedding, and who has the dream
home that meets Crate & Barrel’s requirements.
When would you get married?
first weekend in October in Boston. We’d just to go back there with our
parents and our siblings, a small group of 15, 20 of us. We’re
kind of keeping it on hold with the hope and prayers that we win this
contest. We’re kind of at the mercy of Crate & Barrel and when they
want to actually plan our party back here in California; either way, the
plan is to have the ceremony in the first weekend in October, which is
our third anniversary.
So, if you do win, Crate & Barrel tells you when your reception is?
Basically, you say what day you want for your wedding and you see if
that works with Crate & Barrel marketing and if it works for Yifat
Oren. We’re told October is a good time for everyone, so we’ll see if
the stars align, but we’re not booking any hotels here because if we win,
they could move it and we could lose deposits — so we’re waiting to see
the results of the contest. They’re supposed to pick a winner around the
end of May to mid June.
So, what kind of wedding do you want?
us the most important thing about our wedding, and by wedding I mean
our party back here in California, is that it’s a party — a celebration
of everything that we’ve worked for, a celebration of our love and
family. We’re not looking for the traditional sit-down at tables of
rounds and have the father-daughter dance, er, mother-son dance. We just
want a big party, very organic, very natural. We’d love it to be on the
rooftop of some high-rise or on a hillside overlooking the city — very
L.A. Lots of tray-passed hors d'oeuvres, great DJ or band, very loungey.
Click here to vote for Cronrod and Artcliff or to read more about the contest.