Gay pastors marry in Stony Brook church
They passed their wedding rings through a flame and placed them on each other's fingers.
Gathered in front of a yellow banner reading "Standing on the Side of Love," the Rev. Margie Allen and the Rev. Linda Anderson said their vows, promising to laugh and love, cherish and support.
It was the second time they said those words.
But this time was different.
"You are now truly married," the Rev. Donald McKinney proclaimed, setting off a standing ovation from a crowd of 250 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook in East Setauket.
Allen, 55, and Anderson, 63, had a wedding ceremony in upstate Kingston on May 30, 2010, before the Marriage Equality Act took effect allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.
Sunday's revisiting of their vows was part of the Unitarian Universalist Association's nationwide advocacy campaign, Thirty Days of Love, that began on Martin Luther King Day and ends Tuesday on Valentine's Day.
This weekend's gathering was part of a "Standing on the Side of Love" service Sunday to celebrate "compassion and the search for justice," and the wedding was included in the program.
"In standing with Linda and me . . . you have served as the guardians of our dignity and worth as human beings," Allen said during her sermon before the wedding. "Today you will see me and Linda's life change before your eyes."
Many in the congregation lobbied for the Marriage Equality Law to pass and 30 parishioners traveled to Albany to share their views last spring when it was up for debate.
The wedding of Allen and Anderson, who met in 2006, was the culmination of that hard work, Allen said.
"Marriage equality has arrived in our great state and it has been rolling on like a mighty stream ever since," said Laura Lesch, a worship associate at the church.
On July 24, 2011, New York became the sixth and most populous state to allow same-sex marriage. Allen called it a "vivid symbol of a long wrong being almost made right" because federal law still prohibits same-sex weddings.
"It is a wonderful up moment so it is a time to rejoice, and it is a time to get things settled here," McKinney said during the ceremony.
"Standing on the Side of Love" became a rallying cry in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, and again in California as people fought Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage but was recently overturned in court.