Solidarity in a Marriage ceremony and a March

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A well-recognized soundtrack of police choppers, emergency sirens and rhythmic chants might be heard outdoors the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany on June 6 in Philadelphia, the place Brad Luna and Adam Ouanes had just been married by the Rev. Robert Smith, an Episcopal priest.

Mr. Luna, 43, and Mr. Ouanes, 31, walked out of the church and into Philadelphia historical past, bearing witness to the biggest variety of protesters gathering towards racism and police brutality ever to march via Heart Metropolis, the place the couple has lived the final 5 years.

“No justice, no peace,” the protesters shouted within the wake of George Floyd’s loss of life in Minneapolis. “No justice, no peace.”

“At first, all I may see was this explosion of colours and indicators and other people,” stated Mr. Ouanes, who acquired a grasp’s diploma in social service from Bryn Mawr Faculty final month. “We have been sort of shocked.”

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Mr. Luna, an proprietor of a public relations agency in Washington (he graduated from the College of Tulsa), stated the 12-person marriage ceremony occasion discovered itself in a most awkward place, excessive atop a flight of stairs, trying down on the protesters strolling on the road.

“It was as if we have been on a stage,” he stated.

In a approach, they have been, Mr. Ouanes stated. “Most of the protesters have been simply sort of watching us, ready for some sort of response,” he stated. “So we simply began applauding them.”

In flip, the marchers applauded the newlyweds, many elevating their fists in solidarity with the same-sex couple.

“I’m standing there pondering ‘Oh my gosh, that is precisely why I used to be in a position to get married at this time, by doing what these persons are doing proper now,’” stated Mr. Ouanes, who graduated from the College of the Arts in Philadelphia.

“When individuals unify collectively and rise up for what is true, change occurs,” he added “So for me, it was an ideal full-circle second.”

Victoria Boyer, a buddy of the couple who participated within the march, noticed them on the church steps.

”Their love has at all times been inspiring,” Ms. Boyer stated. “However that day, it held one other which means.”

Mr. Luna, the previous communications director of the Human Rights Marketing campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T. civil rights group, which is predicated in Washington, stated that through the planning of their marriage ceremony, he and Mr. Ouanes “have been very delicate to the backdrop of what’s going on on this nation.”

5 days earlier than their nuptials, the couple despatched their 10 attendees a letter of concern that started: “Our hearts are heavy as we take into consideration what has occurred in our nation and our metropolis over the previous a number of days. The destruction round our metropolis and the deep trauma and ache the black neighborhood continues to face is devastating, and alter is desperately wanted.”

Mr. Luna and Mr. Ouanes have been initially alleged to be married on the Powel Home museum in Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they moved their ceremony to St. Luke, canceled the reception, and shrank their 100-person visitor checklist to 10. Different household and associates have been in a position to watch the proceedings by way of Zoom.

However the couple, who share a house lower than a block from Church of St. Luke, have been in a position to hold their unique marriage ceremony date, which was necessary to the couple as a result of June is L.G.B.T. Delight Month, “and it was 5 years this month that the Supreme Courtroom’s marriage equality ruling was issued,” Mr. Luna stated.

Mr. Luna and Mr. Ouanes, whose ceremony began at four p.m., noticed a police chopper patrolling the skies that morning, and knew {that a} protest can be happening later that day, however by no means thought of it a scheduling battle.

“Along with the historic significance of June, we had additionally been engaged for 3 years, so we have been actually able to be married,” Mr. Luna stated.

“There was even a tornado-watch occurring that day, however we plowed forward and I’m actually glad we did,” he stated, “as a result of that second we shared with the Black Lives Matter protesters was some of the significant and thrilling moments of our lives.”

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