Weddings for Equality: Vendor Showcase

I recently had the opportunity to model for the first Weddings for Equality Wedding Vendor Showcase, held at the new Hilton Garden Inn at South Peak in Roanoke. The event was organized by Sarah Pendleton of Pumpernickle Pickle Catering, and it was a great success, with over 25 vendors from Roanoke and the New River Valley, and over 30 pre-registered participants plus additional walk-in visitors.

My relationship to the event was a bit different as a model than as a bride shopping for vendors (we pretty much have that all sewn up, YAY!). Still, I was able to wander for a few minutes between being styled by the hair and makeup artists of Thomas Dunn Studios and getting dressed for the fashion show. I was excited to see several of our selected vendors there, including Mark Frye of Creative Occasions, whose flowers were exquisite as always; our wedding photographer Noah Magnifico, who captured a few great iPhone snapshots; and our planner Michelle Robb of The Wedding Planner magazine and The Perfect Fairytale. There were also informative displays by the Roanoke Diversity Center, Hollins University, Fashionista Roanoke, and numerous other wedding vendors, including bridebook, Les Cheveux Salon, Green Hill House, and more.

As I was being styled, I got to enjoy the aroma of delicious victuals from Pumpernickel Pickle and For the Love of Sweets and admired the beautiful flowers from George’s and Glorioso. As a member of Fashionista Roanoke, I modeled two looks from The Bride’s House, an emerald green chiffon bridesmaid’s dress and a lovely beaded mermaid-style wedding gown. The gown looks nothing like the dress I’ve picked, so I feel safe sharing it. 🙂 I also had the pleasure of modeling one of Sandra Eileen’s Every Girl a Goddess striking headpieces. I love hats, especially distinctive, vintage-y ones, and though I’m planning a simpler look for our ceremony, I’m sorely tempted to wear one of her creations at the reception! Along with official event photographer April Amodeo (check out her beautiful event photos here), Fashionista photographer Ric Wade of A Handful of Light captured our runway walks.

In addition to the Fashionista models, the fashion show portion of the event featured real-life brides Megan and Irene, who plan to tie the knot this spring. They make a beautiful couple, captured here by Ashley Simmons Fine Art Photography in their Bride’s House finery, accessorized with happy smiles.

Meanwhile at the Supreme Court…

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry or requires states to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. According to a story reported on NPR’s Morning Edition, the cases before the court include that of Jayne Rowse and April BeBoer, who have four adopted children. Their home state of Michigan allows single people, but not same-sex couples, to adopt children, so each woman legally adopted two. When they discovered that should one of them die, the other parent would not necessarily be granted custody of the two adopted children of the deceased parent, they filed a suit. Widower Jim Obergefell filed his suit when he was told he could not be named as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of Arthur, his partner of 20 years, whom he married in Maryland. Why? Because their state of residence, Ohio, refused to recognize the marriage.

In what world is taking children away from a loving parent, or adding insult to overwhelming grief, humane?

According to an ABC poll conducted last week, 61% reported supporting same-sex marriage, up from 36% just six years ago. Still, some argue that “no one has a right to marriage.” From the perspective that anyone’s finding romantic love is a gift, not a guarantee, that’s true. But the government confers certain rights and protections based on marital status. As a long-time singleton, for example, I’m well aware that matrimony is awarded with a tax break. That might not be discriminatory if everyone who were single remained so by choice. But when two consenting adults who wish to marry are denied the ability to do so—and thus denied access to related rights and benefits—that’s another matter.

Photo, Ashley Simmons

Photo, Ashley Simmons

And as the stories noted above suggest, there are larger issues than taxes at stake. Marriage also brings with it the right to make medical decisions and advocate for your spouse’s wishes in the event she or he is incapacitated, the right to stand by your loved one’s bedside in the ICU, the right to retain custody of adopted children you’ve parented since their first days. Same-sex partners can gain some of those rights of access by drafting a set of legal documents, but only by investing additional, and considerable, time, energy, and expense.

The fact that Michigan’s counsel John Bursche cited “procreation” as a reason to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is, frankly, eye-rolling, especially to this 40-something bride. If procreating is a requirement, I guess Steve and I should be denied our right to marry, too. Bursche also argued that it was “not possible” that a definition of marriage arrived at in 1805 and maintained since was “irrational.”  Because no government would ever pass or hold on to an irrational law, would they?

Ultimately, it’s about respect. Respect, humanity, and love.

Showcasing the Future…

According to Garland Gravely, founder of Fashionista Roanoke and emcee for the Weddings for Equality event, the Showcase was a great success.  Praising Pendleton’s efforts, he noted,  “We’re reaching a community that was marginalized—same-sex brides and grooms feel comfortable coming, because the event was targeted to them, and they know they are welcome.”  Gravely reported that the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, a popular local wedding/reception venue, has already approached the organizers about doing a second Weddings for Equality event in November.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by June. I hope there will be cause for celebration at the fall showcase!

 ♥ ♥ ♥

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