Seven Charlotte couples have returned from a trip full of memories. This weekend, they set out to tie the knot in Washington, D.C., as family, friends and clergy followed along.

The couples were forced to travel to D.C. for their ceremonies because North Carolina does not recognize marriages by same-sex couples. An anti-gay constitutional amendment proposed in the state Senate would make such a ban more stringent, banning recognition of “domestic legal union” by same-sex couples, including civil unions, marriages and domestic partnerships.

The ceremonies were officiated by Reverend Nancy Ellett Allison of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El and Reverend Robin Tanner of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church.

“Marriage equality for gay and lesbian persons is an important justice issue in our nation,” Rev. Stephen Shoemaker of Myers Park Baptist Church said in a release. “South Africa is ahead of us. I support and rejoice in this inter-faith trip to Washington D.C. where gay couples can be married legally, and pray for a time laws in North Carolina can provide this legal equality for all people in our state.”

Shoemaker added, “The common good of our nation can only be served by the support and recognition of enduring covenantal relationships whether heterosexual or homosexual. And faith communities are enriched as gay couples are able to become fully part of a faith community and share their lives and spiritual gifts with the congregation and its service of love in the world.”

Several other local congregations supported the initiative, including Pilgrim Congregational UCC of Charlotte, Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte and
Wedgewood Baptist Church. Sponsoring organizations included RAIN, Time Out Youth, attorney Connie J. Vetter and the Human Rights Campaign.

Today, the couples, their families and clergy will hold a special “Celebratory Champagne Toast” today. During the event, Reverend Jay Leach will bless the couples that have just returned home and toasts will be offered by several of the sponsoring clergy including Reverend Dr. Chris Ayers.

The seven couples’ were the subject of a Sunday Charlotte Observer feature by writer Tim Funk. Catch it here…

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.