Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are worried that their right to marry hangs in the balance with newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
This fear comes from her refusal to say the Obergefell v. Hodges case, which legalized same-sex marriage, was correctly decided.
Lot’s Wife Trans & Queer Chaplaincy led by Pastor Tori Jameson from St. Louis, organized an event in front of City Hall in St. Louis to marry couples at the same time as the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings on Oct. 12-15. This was done in protest of her confirmation.
However, Hunter Rinati from Maryland Heights, Missouri, who was one of the officiants at the event, said this was more than just a protest.
“I understand that what we were doing was a protest, but it wasn’t just about it being a protest,” Rinati said. “It was about helping make sure these people don’t lose their rights to be married, and I know for myself, and I know Tori as well, that if we have any people who reach out to us currently and say ‘hey, I want to get married, I wasn’t able to make it to these pop-ups,’ we’ll make it happen.”
One of the couples that got married during the event were Macklan and Silas King from St. Louis, and Macklan said while their wedding day was not at all what they expected, it really was perfect.
“It’s weird, it’s like being non-binary, but assigned female at birth and being socialized as a girl growing up, you get all of these socialized expectations about your wedding day,” Macklan King said. “The way I ended up getting married did not remotely reflect what I expected my wedding day to be like as a kid, but it was really just perfect because it was all about love and joy, and support, and about community.”
Jameson said they ended up doing 14 weddings and two vow renewals total at the event, which was more than expected.
“I was expecting that we were going to have a couple of sign-ups, because you could sign up to talk with us in advance … but I was expecting a couple of sign-ups, a bunch of walk-ups and a bunch of vows renewals, but it wasn’t like that,” Jameson said. “I ended up with dozens and dozens of volunteers.”
Another officiant at the event, Pastor Krissy Avise-Rouse from Columbia, Illinois, said they were impressed with the amount of community support the event gathered.
“There were so many wonderful volunteers involved and just lovely couples,” Avise-Rouse said. “Being very visible on the side of City Hall, and having people stop and ask questions, and kind of share support, almost uniformly, was really, really wonderful.”
They said they found support when they weren’t expecting it.
“There was in particular a guy who appeared to be unhoused, who stood on the sidewalk a really long time staring, and the look on his face was really hard to read, but it appeared to be potentially hostile,” Avise-Rouse said. “Well, he was trying to read our sign, he didn’t want to get close and scare anybody, but he wanted to read our sign.”
Avise-Rouse said they weren’t just impressed by the support of the community, but from City Hall as well.
“The fact that City Hall was supporting us was a really nice change for many in our community,” Avise-Rouse said. “Especially for trans and genderqueer folks, we’re not often supported by government, so to have the city marshals checking on our well-being, to have the mayor’s office sending someone to check on things every day to make sure we were being taken care of was really, really nice.”
Jameson said the slow periods gave the volunteers who wouldn’t normally spend time together a chance to do just that and allowed it to work as a community building event as well.
“For some of our volunteers, they don’t spend a lot of time with other LGBTQ[+] people, or there were just a lot of intergenerational people,” Jameson said. “We just had all these different people … so I think that building community was just a really beautiful benefit of the event too.”
Another one of these volunteers was a member of Free Mom Hugs Missouri, a group of parents who are dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community though educating the community and volunteering at events, Amber Callahan from Bourbon, Missouri who cheered those getting married and helped to set up decorations.
Callahan said she was just excited to be able to get involved and do something to help out.
“I lived in Boston for a couple of years and there I was able to get super involved, and then I moved out here and there’s just not as much to do, so I get excited whenever I see anything,” Callahan said.
She said while all marriages are emotional and exciting, this one felt very different than the average wedding.
“There was definitely a different feel to it, just because hearing some of their stories, and some of them hadn’t felt the need to really get married until all of this started happening,” Callahan said.
Jameson said that even though these are scary times, there is still support out there.
“If you are an LGBTQ[+] student, what I want to say to you is, yes, there is reason to worry … but there is a giant queer community there to welcome you and there to support you, and to help you not only survive, but thrive.”
For more information about this event and future events go to Lot’s Wife Trans & Queer Chaplaincy’s Facebook page and to donate visit their Patreon page.