Monday, June 17, 2013

Around The Nation

Mayor Conducts Mass Same-Sex Marriage At Baltimore Pride
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiates over 
mass same-sex wedding Sunday at Baltimore Pride 2013.
BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake conducted a mass same-sex wedding ceremony Sunday in the Druid Hill Park during the city's annual Pride Festival. The ceremony for the 20 couples was held in front of of hundreds of Pride festival attendees along with well-wishers who came to see the first mass same-sex wedding in Baltimore's history.
Rawlings-Blake also served as grand marshal of the annual Pride Parade on Saturday marching the parade route in heels several inches high through the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood accompanied by two men with "SRB" painted onto their bare chests.
The crowd cheered as the mayor read off the traditional ending lines of,
"To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part."
"I now pronounce you married," Rawlings-Blake said as the couples embraced and kissed adding, "It was a very touching ceremony an it was truly my honor to officiate ... to celebrate love and equality."
The mayor is viewed by LGBTQ equality rights activists as a strong ally and critical supporter of the city's LGBTQ community. Community activist Carrietta Hiers, who organized the mass wedding, said of the mayor's support that the mayor has told her she sees LGBT equality as a civil rights issue.
"The support is critical," Hiers noted. "It's always, 'What can I do to help?' 'What do you need?' 'This is the person that you should contact.' She [Rawlings-Blake] believes in equality for everyone."
Maryland's Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, who pushed for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, was also known as a supporter of LGBT equality rights while he was mayor of Baltimore. Same-sex marriage in Maryland became law January 1 after approval by the General Assembly and by voters on a referendum in November 2012.
Not everyone in the city was approving of the ceremony. Reverend Lynwood H. Leverette from the Mount Pisgah CME Church in West Baltimore said the mayor's involvement was "alarming." According to Leverette, marriage should be between a man and a woman.
"I find it somewhat embarrassing to go anywhere in the country and say, 'I'm from Baltimore,' and someone brings up that our mayor thinks it prudent to participate in that," Leverette said. "She should have left well enough alone."