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“Gay Marriages Happen Here.” Senior Minister, Steve Crump, and I spent an hour on the phone searching for the perfect words to fit on the sign out front of the church. We wanted it to say “Lesbian and Gay Marriages Recognized and Officiated Here,” but our wayside pulpit can only support a few words. We decided to use only the word “gay” because we were confident it would still communicate to the Baton Rouge community an implicit larger acceptance of LGBTQ folks. We also liked it because it was only three letters.

 We opted for “Marriage” over “Weddings” because we didn’t want it to sound like an advertisement for a venue. The commitment of marriage happens through consensual love. It is solidified into a union through a ceremony officiated by clergy (or a judge) in which both partners state their intentions and love. Because both Steve and I serve as Unitarian Universalist ministers, we have the authority, granted to us at our ordinations, to officiate the creation of a marriage. Ergo, marriage the institution rather than wedding the ceremony is the more apt term for what happens at our church.

 We then spent a long time fighting with the thesaurus to get just the right verb. “Recognized” was our first choice because it communicated the welcoming environment we hope all will experience when they walk into our sanctuary. But it was too long for the sign and it wasn’t active enough. “Supported,” “honored,” and “affirmed” were considered but also jettisoned because of their passivity.

 We decided on “Happens” because we as a religious community take part in creating the world we dream of. Defining marriage inclusively and not exclusively feeds the heart, affirms a loving God, and makes the world stronger, more caring and more generous. Gay marriage happens here because we work for it and are committed to it.