In light of marriage equality coming to Florida, the River of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation (RoG) in Davie will be celebrating by performing free weddings for same-sex couples this Sunday.
RoG's Marriage Equality Celebration will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. and allow same-sex couples with a marriage license the opportunity to be married in either private or group ceremonies. Also at no cost, the RoG will provide flowers and wedding cupcakes to couples and allow them the chance to have their pictures taken by a photographer in the hospitality area.
According to the Rev. Amy Carol Webb, the minister at RoG, the reason the congregation is celebrating marriage equality is because the congregation is overjoyed that the love and commitment of same-sex couples can "finally" be recognized in Florida.
"At River of Grass, we have welcomed and affirmed same-love couples since we opened our doors as a beacon of liberal religion in West Broward 15 years ago," said Webb. "We are honored to celebrate with those who can now be married and those whose out-of-state marriages will now be honored. My own spouse and I, married in Massachusetts, will renew our vows during Sunday's celebration."
Broward resident Vanessa Alenier, who with her partner Melanie are among the plaintiffs in the Pareto v. Ruvin lawsuit, is excited that local religious groups are celebrating marriage equality coming to Florida.
"That is just beautiful!" said Alenier. "I'm so happy to see so much support. So many places in Florida have been waiting for this day to come and can't wait to celebrate love."
Row lliescu, who works with Equality Florida, one of the state's leading LGBT rights' advocacy groups, believes that RoG's celebration may assist in informing the local community of the love same-sex couples share and of the social dignity they should be afforded.
"I think it is awesome that so many faith organizations are sharing in the celebration," said lliescu. "Hopefully this [event] will do a lot to help with the healing and educating that needs to take place following the breakthrough of marriage equality coming to Florida."
Webb has stated that in her years as a chaplain, she has spent many hours mediating the painful difficulties same-sex couples have endured because they had little legal recourse in health-care facilities and with their families.
"Until this moment, more than 1,000 civil rights and protections afforded by marriage have been denied to same-sex couples, whose unions are otherwise equal in every way. Legal recognition protects same-sex couples and their families financially, as parents and in health care," said Webb. "No longer can a spouse be denied access to her own home in the event of her beloved's death or suffer inheritance taxes on their home. No longer must a same-sex couple incur extensive legal fees to establish paperwork ensuring the same rights enjoyed by other couples for only a marriage license fee. And the list goes on and on."
Webb and her congregation are proud that they can now perform the weddings for the many same-sex couples who are expected to show up to their event over the weekend.
"We are ready and waiting to marry you," said Webb. "Just bring your marriage license and and we've got the rest to honor your commitment and lift up your love -- ceremony, music, flowers, cake, photos and most of all, joy. Likewise, if you want to celebrate recognition of your out-of-state marriage. We're throwing a party for love -- for you!"