The Church in Ocean Park celebrated the historic May 15 California Supreme Court decision to permit same sex couples to wed in a civil ceremony by offering a group wedding ceremony to all types of couples, same or opposite sex, last Sunday, July 6.
Although everyone from Rev. Janet McKeithen to L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl spoke of the rights of same sex partners to marry, all of the couples who came forward to marry or renew their vows that day were heterosexual, unless one counts Patty Warvonchik, who pledged her vows to her higher self. One of the couples that participated married for the first time, while others took the opportunity to renew their vows.
Church Reverend Janet McKeithen tried to explain to the Mirror why no gay couples participated, stating, “On reflection, I realize that it would be difficult [for gays or lesbians] to trust a church when churches have been oppressing gay and lesbian people for thousands of years.” She also observed that there are a number of gay and lesbian members in her church, and that some of them were in the audience during Sunday’s ceremony.
McKeithen is hopeful that “as a result of this ceremony, same sex couples will now feel welcome and free to get married at a later date in the church.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, those in attendance heard from Los Angles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl who discussed his struggle with being “an openly gay man.” He emphasized that it was not “something I chose or prefer. It was something I was born as, and it was something I struggled with until I was 32.” Rosendahl, who was raised as a Catholic, explained that his struggle was based on the prejudice and pain gays experience both in society and through organized religion. He then noted that in the end it was best to “accept myself and get on with my life.”
Rosendahl then expressed his support for the state allowing all citizens, no matter what their sexual orientation, to obtain a civil union and then be able to go to a church or any other place of worship and do a ceremony of their choosing. He also mentioned his opposition to the November ballot measure which if passed will amend the state’s Constitution to outlaw same sex unions and the legal rights that come to each partner with such a union. The measure defines marriage as only being possible between a man and a woman.
After hearing a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing” sung by Venice musician Peter Demain, McKeithen stated we are “together this morning to claim our right to love each other. Today, we are honoring not only those relationships deemed proper relationships between men and women, but also between me and men and women and women.”