Colleen Sandor and Candice Pitcher didn’t really know Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker before Dec. 20, but that didn’t stop them from kissing him on the cheek and making him blush.
Sandor and Pitcher were among the same-sex couples that Becker married in the harried hours after a federal district judge struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. The status of their marriage is now uncertain as the Supreme Court issued a stay on the decision and the case now remains before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
But Sunday, the day of the Utah Pride Parade and the last day of the Pride Festival, wasn’t one for discussing court machinations, but to celebrate. And Becker threw a "Utah wedding reception," complete with nut cups and sparkling apple cider, for those couples he married.
Sandor and Pitcher were among the attendees, bringing their 10-month-old twin girls, Scarlett and Lydia.
They said the more than 1,000 marriages conducted in those 17 days changed the tenor of the Pride Festival.
"It makes it feel much more inclusive," said Sandor. "It is not a fringe thing anymore."
Another couple, Eddie Fung and William Schwarz, not only attended Becker’s reception but walked with the mayor in the Pride Parade. They wanted to thank the mayor for conducting same-sex weddings just hours after the court ruling was filed.
Those ceremonies were hectic and emotional, so much so that Fung didn’t recognize the garish red vest Becker was wearing at the time.
With nationwide news coverage, Becker received quite a bit of ribbing for that vest and later auctioned it off at an Equality Utah fundraiser in St. George. It raised $1,300.
To keep the joke going, the mayor’s office printed white T-shirts with a red vest on it, which they gave to the couples Becker married and to supporters who walked or rode bikes with the mayor in the parade.
Becker wrote an opinion piece for The Salt Lake Tribune in which he called the marriage ceremonies that he performed "a highlight of my years of public service."
"It was a spontaneous outbreak of love. Ill never forget it," he wrote.
And on Sunday, he said it was a treat to get to know some of the people that he helped wed, while just outside of his window at City Hall, music blared and revelers danced.
Schwarz said it may sound silly that he feels a bit different after getting a Utah marriage license.
"I feel equal," he said. "Not validated, but equal."
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