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Gay Wedding Ceremonies

Learn about gay wedding ceremonies including Jewish, Baptist, Anglican and other religious gay wedding ceremonies.

1. Gay Jewish Ceremony

Same-sex marriage is not supported in orthodox Judaism, but like most religions there are Rabbis that are willing to support a couple's union despite sexual orientation or interfaith issues.

American Rabbi Miriam Jerris advocates Secular Humanist Judaism and has adapted the Jewish wedding ceremony for gay couples. The different belief systems of Secular Humanist Judaism means that although religious traditions are incorporated into the gay wedding ceremony, the focus is on the human aspects of their union rather than on any particular religion.

Rabbi Jerris says that couples should select parts of the Jewish gay wedding ceremony that reflect the backgrounds of the couple, and incorporating rituals or symbols from their respective cultural or religious upbringings. In a typical Jewish-Christian gay wedding ceremony, for example, couples use achuppah, or wedding canopy, and the ceremony involves the drinking of wine, a unity candle, readings, and a breaking of the glass. The significance, symbolism, and origins of these traditions is explained by the Rabbi to the gathered guests.

For Jewish couples, Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, also American, has adapted a traditional ceremony that acknowledges the different relationship of the gay couple while staying close to the religious traditions of a Jewish wedding.

Couples should talk to their local temple or contact gay-friendly Jewish groups for information on a Rabbi to conduct a gay Jewish wedding ceremony.


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2. Pagan Ceremonies

Pagan wedding ceremonies, often called 'handfastings,' are a good option for couples who wish to celebrate the spirituality of their union without getting involved in the minutia of religious debate. Paganism is a religion that celebrates the holiness of nature. Worshippers do not follow a formal doctrine, and although committed Pagans gather to worship together the religion for many is more about an attitude to spirituality and the world.

A gay Pagan ceremony is fairly easy to organize. Couples can choose to track down a Pagan celebrant or instruct their own celebrant on how to conduct the ceremony. The celebrant will invoke the blessing of the God and Goddess, which are acknowledged to come in thousands of forms. The couple light a candle to honor the gods and signify the beginning of their new life. The couple may further invoke the blessings of the spirits by saying 'blessed be'. The celebrant will then conduct the handfasting ritual, asking the couple to join hands and wrapping the joined hands in a strip of red cloth. Gay couples may choose to have a rainbow hand fasting, using gay accessories of strips of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple cloth to represent the chakras and their sexuality. The couple then exchange vows, asking the sky and earth to bestow the union with their elements.

Couples who are interested in traditional paganism may choose to include a broom, to sweep away past hurts, and a chalice of wine, to represent their combined spirits. Pagan gay wedding ceremonies are particularly suited to the range of gay accessories available at the moment. Jewelry pieces that use color or flowing, circular designs will further invoke the elements of nature to bless the union of the gay couple.


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3. Gay American Baptist Ceremonies

The gay American Baptist church has rites in place for the blessing of same sex unions. Pastor Howard Bess of the church has designed a gay Baptist ceremony which stresses the teachings of Jesus and the passages of the Bible which talk of the value of love. The ceremony begins with a statement acknowledging the 'rightness and holiness' of the couple's relationship. Passages of the Bible are read which speak of the holy union of love, ending with a passage from I Corinthians which enforces the message of the strength of love: 'Even though I speak in the tongues of human beings and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

'If I have powers of prophecy and understand all mysteries and if I know everything, and if I have so much faith that I can move mountains, and do not know how to love, I am nothing. If I give away everything that I have and do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'

The couple then exchanges promises. Couples can choose whether to include a gay design in their wedding rings or go with a traditional ring. The ceremony can close with the traditional kiss if desired.

Couples choosing a gay design for their wedding rings do not have to give up traditional designs. When looking for gay wedding rings, couples should keep an eye out for designers who incorporate traditional, classic features in rings that also have a gay element, such as the pink triangle represented in a gem.


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4. Anglican Gay Ceremonies

The Anglican church is one of the few churches in the world that has a section fully supporting gay marriage. The official policy of the Anglican church opposes same-sex unions, but clergy in the Diocese of New Westminster, in Vancouver in Canada were authorized to perform a rite of blessing for same sex unions by their bishop, Bishop Michael Ingham. The rite is different to a marriage ceremony, which the bishop held was still only for heterosexual couples, but is 'a blessing of permanent and faithful commitments between persons of the same sex in order that they may have the support and encouragement of the church in their lives together under God,' according to the bishop. Couples still exchange vows and same sex wedding rings.

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, Bishop John B. Chane, is developing rites for same-sex marriages for the 94 churches in his diocese. Liturgical rites have been in use for some time in the diocese, but Bishop Chane wants a rite that can be uniformly used. Couples can choose between contemporary, classic, gay pride and traditional designs for same sex wedding rings to exchange as part of their Anglican wedding ceremony.

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5. Buddhist Gay Ceremonies

Because Buddhism is a practice more than a strict faith, gay couples who practice Buddhism should talk to their local gurus for recommendations on wedding ceremonies. The Internet, gay marriage groups and lesbian and gay fashion magazines will also provide ideas of texts to feature and ceremonies to use.

One couple, gay men who live in the US , used the Metta Sutra for their ceremony. The Buddhist song 'Free and Easy' was sung, recommending that souls 'Don't go into the tangled jungle looking for the great awakened elephant, who is already resting quietly at home in front of your own hearth.' 
Couples can choose Buddhist texts and meditations that have meaning to their union. A Buddhist celebrant can be found by contacting local temples or gay marriage groups.

A couple interested in an alternative ceremony may feel that a wedding ring is inappropriate for their marriage. A gay neck chain or other gay jewelry is an equally recognizable sign of a couple's commitment. Couples should browse gay fashion for options.


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6. Roman Catholic Gay Wedding Ceremonies

Orthodox Catholicism does not approve of homosexuality. One Catholic group in America , Dignity USA , was formed for gay Catholics to continue to observe their faith without fear of discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Dignity USA has developed a Catholic gay wedding ceremony that may be used if at least one partner is a member of the church. The ceremony uses religious and cultural traditions, scripture, prayer, Eucharist, and other symbols, to present the couple to their community.

If a couple is a member of Dignity USA , the group will help to organize a community-recognized Presider to bless the union. This is the only way for a Holy Union to be a valid and recognized covenant in the eyes of the DignityUSA community. The marriage will then be recorded in the DignityUSA National Couples Registry. Both partners must be of age, not currently married or committed, and at least one member must be a member of Dignity USA .

Couples who wish to recognize their Catholic heritage without being members of the Dignity congregation should talk to their local church for information on the Catholic marriage ceremony. Although the union may not be blessed in the church, elements could be used in a gay and lesbian fashion to celebrate the union.

Couples interested in a Catholic ceremony should not rule out gay or lesbian fashion for their wedding clothes and jewelry. Gay and lesbian fashion stores and gay jewelers often provide a range of traditional options for gay and lesbian weddings.

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7. Gay Wedding Chapel at Las Vegas

There is one gay wedding chapel in Las Vegas, which provides everything spectacular and just plain tacky that a couple could want for their gay wedding ceremony. The chapel is owned by two gay partners and is solely devoted to lesbian and gay weddings. The chapel offers a range of ceremonies, including elegant, traditional ceremonies and that best of Las Vegas traditions, the Elvis wedding.

The chapel looks like an adobe mission, with wooden beams and a vaulted ceiling as well as stained glass windows. The aisle is long enough to accommodate long wedding trains for brides who are interested in going completely traditional, and the chapel can accommodate up to 100 guests. Florist services can be arranged in-house and packages include photography and a video of the wedding. For drama queens, the chapel has theatrical lighting, smoke effects, sets, and costumed characters. The owners also operate the Las Vegas Gay Hotel .


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8. Secular Ceremonies

Couples can choose to have a secular ceremony if they feel their faiths would conflict, if they have no particular faith or if they particularly want an agnostic or atheistic ceremony. One good thing about a secular ceremony is that you don't have to fit in with any regulations -€“ most ceremonies are based around asking for a god's blessing, adapting church ceremonies to fit in with a couple's wishes. Secular ceremonies are solely about the couple's commitment to each other.

There are several types of secularist ceremonies. Humanist celebrants offer wedding ceremonies that concentrate on the power of the human spirit and do not invoke or refer to any type of religion, god or deity. Humanist celebrants in America are certified by a division of the American Humanist Association and will generally talk with couples to help them decide what they want their ceremony to be like.

Atheist ceremonies take a stand against religion, acknowledging that the couple come together for their shared love and do not ask the authority of any god to bless their union. Couples may have friends read passages of favorite texts to demonstrate the couple's feelings for each other.

Gay wedding vows for secular gay ceremonies can take any form a couple wishes, although it is generally a good idea to look at existing vows for inspiration. A couple may wish to include a favorite love poem or inspirational writing in their vows, as well as a list of promises to their spouse.


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