Loring Park was feeling the love -- a lot of it -- last Sunday when gay and lesbian couples took part in a mass commitment ceremony on Gay Pride weekend.
If the old superstitions are true, and idyllic wedding-day weather is truly an omen of the happiness to come, then things should go swimmingly for the 22 same-sex couples that participated in a mass commitment ceremony at last weekend's Twin Cities Pride celebration in Minneapolis. Skies were crystal clear, save for the occasional cumulus, and the sun shone brightly upon their happy occasion.
At 12:45 p.m. Sunday, couples started gathering in Loring Park before an unattractive concert stage scattered with speakers and strung with banners advertising Best Buy and Bud Light. They were dressed casually, in the typical Pride getups of khaki shorts, T-shirts, tank tops and party beads in a rainbow of colors.
If the setting didn't inspire romanticism, then a recent ruling by the California Supreme Court certainly helped things along. In fact, Derrick Haglund and Rick Lashbrook of Burnsville, who came to the commitment ceremony with a dozen witnesses, said they're headed to California this August for a legal wedding. "But we wanted to do something with family and friends," said Lashbrook.
Another pair, Raven Krasky and Ashley Bellecourt, 20-somethings from Bloomington, were tangled in each other's arms while their roommates, Sarah and Cam Willson, a straight, married couple, went snap-happy with a digital camera.
"It's time -- we're ready," said Krasky without taking her eyes off Bellecourt.
Once the event got underway, just before 1 p.m., the proceedings proved just as schmaltzy as typical nuptials: Officiants included Twin Cities Pride executive director Cheryl Maloney, who has a doctorate of spirituality; commitment ceremony manager the Rev. Nancy Berg, and the Rev. Lyle Schlundt, so the readings were mostly biblical and included the standard Corinthians 13:13 passage. Musician Lori Dokken intermittently chimed in with crooning renditions of John Lennon's "Imagine" and the Beatles' "In My Life."
The couples attentively billed, cooed and hooked their thumbs in each other's back pockets -- one pair started to dance -- throughout the 20-minute ceremony, even as an oblivious festivalgoer stumbled by, rather disruptively, chatting loudly on his cell phone.
Afterward, they pushed through the throngs to meet at the nearby "commitment pavilion" to partake in a rainbow-colored, lavender-frosted wedding cake. That's where event organizers had erected two picturesque gazebos, on the shores of Loring Park's pond -- the setting for the intimate commitment ceremonies they offered all weekend. After a few bites of cake, some couples took advantage of the prettier scene to snap more photos.
Just 15 minutes after the communal event, Schlundt was already overseeing a personal ceremony for Muzique Broadnax and Ashlei Shaw, both of Minneapolis. When that was through, and the couple was done posing for pictures, we asked why they'd gone through with it. The demure Shaw was beaming, and she answered confidently: "True love."
Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.