News / USA

Gay Couple Exchanges Wedding Vows on Rose Parade Float

Aubrey Loots (R) and Danny Leclair, the first gay couple to be married aboard a float in the Tournament of Roses, kiss after being wed by the Rev. Alfreda Lanoix of the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ (L), aboard the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float in
Aubrey Loots (R) and Danny Leclair, the first gay couple to be married aboard a float in the Tournament of Roses, kiss after being wed by the Rev. Alfreda Lanoix of the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ (L), aboard the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float in
Reuters
A gay Los Angeles couple exchanged wedding vows atop a flower-covered float trundling through Pasadena on Wednesday as part of  the nationally televised Tournament of Roses Parade, capping a momentous year for same-sex marriage in the United States.

The nuptials of Danny Leclair, 45, and Aubrey Loots, 42, who have been together for 12 years and own a local chain of hair salons, marked the first same-sex marriage on a Rose Parade float in the 125-year history of the annual event, organizers said.

In the past, two heterosexual couples have tied the knot during Rose Parades - in 1989 and last year.

Leclair and Loots made it official aboard a float shaped like a wedding cake coated in white coconut chips, accented with red kidney beans and festooned with 12,000 roses and other floral decorations, said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The foundation sponsored the float to celebrate same-sex marriage and the role it can play in helping to reduce new HIV infections among gay men, he said.

The minister who performed the wedding, Alfreda Lanoix, an openly lesbian reverend for the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ, tossed handfuls of rose petals into the air to mark the completion of the ceremony.

The parade was witnessed by an estimated 700,000 spectators who lined the 5.5 mile (8.8 km) procession route and by millions of viewers tuning into one of several networks carrying the event live in the United States and broadcasting it around the world. The parade also was live-streamed over the Internet.

Wedding float takes the cake

The wedding float ended up winning the tournament's Isabella Coleman Award for “best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use.”

In the parade procession, the wedding float was in a lineup that included a high school marching band from Reno, Nevada, a float sponsored by the city of Beverly Hills, and another float sponsored by the Lutheran Laymen's League featuring a banner that said: “Jesus Welcomes All.”

Joining the newlyweds on the float was a married lesbian couple, Sharon Raphael and Mina Meyer, who have been together 42 years, Kenslea said.

Loots, who is originally from South Africa, and Leclair, a native of Canada, met at a Los Angeles nightclub and originally had planned for a relatively low-key wedding until the opportunity to exchange vows in the Rose Parade surfaced.

“For me, I was moved by the stand that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was taking,” Leclair told Reuters on Monday.

Loots said he had been traveling when he got a message from his partner asking if he would want to get married on a Rose Parade float.

“I said, 'You're crazy! Of course, let's celebrate our love in front of the world,”' he recounted, adding that the couple also were motivated by the chance to offer hope to same-sex couples who in most states are still denied marriage rights.

“Being on top of this cake floating down the road is truly for the men and women in the world that don't have these opportunities,” he said.

Wednesday's event comes at a time of increasing momentum for the cause of gay marriage in the courts, at the ballot box and in statehouses across the United States.

As of this month, same-sex matrimony has been legally recognized in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with the tally more than doubling during the past year, due in most cases to litigation over the issue.

The trend has gained steam since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits, striking down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In a separate decision the same day, the high court let stand a lower-court ruling that overturned California's voter approved ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs