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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid