Couple’s ‘purposeful wedding’ acknowledges battle for same-sex marriage

Before the end of June, the Supreme Court will likely issue rulings on two landmark same-sex marriage cases. In one, United States v. Windsor, the court could determine whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. The other, Hollingsworth v. Perry, tackles Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage that voters narrowly passed in 2008. Ahead of the decisions, Yahoo News asked same-sex couples who married since the arguments ended to share stories and photos from their wedding and how they feel as the rulings loom. Featured in this slideshow are Sean Carlson and Jamie McGonnigal, who married in May in Massachusetts. —Tim Skillern

Sean Carlson, 29, left, and Jamie McGonnigal, 37, were married on a beach in Provincetown, Mass., on May 18, surrounded by family and friends. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state’s Supreme Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that Massachusetts could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Twelve states and the District of Columbia now allow gay couples to wed. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
Sean Carlson, 29, left, and Jamie McGonnigal, 37, were married on a beach in Provincetown, Mass., on May 18, surrounded by family and friends. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state’s Supreme Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that Massachusetts could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Twelve states and the District of Columbia now allow gay couples to wed. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
“The wedding was very us,” McGonnigal told Yahoo News in an email this week. “It was crafty and do-it-yourself.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh.)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
“The wedding was very us,” McGonnigal told Yahoo News in an email this week. “It was crafty and do-it-yourself.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh.)
The couple wore kilts during their ceremony and reception. “I take great pride in my Scottish heritage and have owned my own kilt with my family's tartan for some time now. I had every intention of wearing it when I got married,” McGonnigal said. But Carlson didn't want him to wear it because he was afraid they’d look different. When they arrived in Provincetown, Carlson secretly scrambled to rent one. He found a vendor in Pittsburgh who sent it overnight. “It was the best surprise I could have asked for,” McGonnigal said. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
The couple wore kilts during their ceremony and reception. “I take great pride in my Scottish heritage and have owned my own kilt with my family's tartan for some time now. I had every intention of wearing it when I got married,” McGonnigal said. But Carlson didn't want him to wear it because he was afraid they’d look different. When they arrived in Provincetown, Carlson secretly scrambled to rent one. He found a vendor in Pittsburgh who sent it overnight. “It was the best surprise I could have asked for,” McGonnigal said. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
About 110 guests attended, including the couple’s dog, Eli. “He's the most important person in our lives, so we couldn't imagine getting married without him there,” McGonnigal said. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
About 110 guests attended, including the couple’s dog, Eli. “He's the most important person in our lives, so we couldn't imagine getting married without him there,” McGonnigal said. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
“For us, having a ceremony was important because we wanted our friends and family to be able to witness our commitment,” Carlson said in an email to Yahoo News. “Yet no matter what promises we make to each other or our families, the federal government still sees us as no more than good friends.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
“For us, having a ceremony was important because we wanted our friends and family to be able to witness our commitment,” Carlson said in an email to Yahoo News. “Yet no matter what promises we make to each other or our families, the federal government still sees us as no more than good friends.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
The men were walked down the aisle by their mothers—McGonnigal’s at left, Carlson’s at right. “We both very much wanted our moms to give us away,” McGonnigal said. “We were both raised by single moms and it just seemed right.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
The men were walked down the aisle by their mothers—McGonnigal’s at left, Carlson’s at right. “We both very much wanted our moms to give us away,” McGonnigal said. “We were both raised by single moms and it just seemed right.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Their wedding featured a rainbow-colored wedding cake, also symbolizing the fight for marriage equality. “Both Sean and I work in the LGBT equality movement,” McGonnigal said. “It was very important to both of us that we had a purposeful wedding and that we acknowledged the people who came before us who worked so hard to make our marriage possible. We had a reading of a Harvey Milk speech in the ceremony, and we made mention of the fact that we were getting married on the ninth anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
Their wedding featured a rainbow-colored wedding cake, also symbolizing the fight for marriage equality. “Both Sean and I work in the LGBT equality movement,” McGonnigal said. “It was very important to both of us that we had a purposeful wedding and that we acknowledged the people who came before us who worked so hard to make our marriage possible. We had a reading of a Harvey Milk speech in the ceremony, and we made mention of the fact that we were getting married on the ninth anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
The couple said they shared the same favorite moment at their wedding. “During the ceremony, we'd asked our officiant to include a brief moment to consider all the work that has been done which made this day possible. And in that brief moment, all you could hear was the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. It was so peaceful and awesome to just stand in silence—surrounded by so many people who we love and who love us—holding one another's hand.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
The couple said they shared the same favorite moment at their wedding. “During the ceremony, we'd asked our officiant to include a brief moment to consider all the work that has been done which made this day possible. And in that brief moment, all you could hear was the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. It was so peaceful and awesome to just stand in silence—surrounded by so many people who we love and who love us—holding one another's hand.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
They met in Washington, D.C., when McGonnigal was in town from New York to organize a rally at the White House to protest the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.” The night before the rally, he was distributing fliers at gay bars in D.C. when Carlson approached him and asked, “You’re not from here, are you?” McGonnigal responded: “How do you know?” Carlson replied: “You’re carrying around a big gay metro D.C. map.” They spent the rest of the evening handing out fliers together. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
They met in Washington, D.C., when McGonnigal was in town from New York to organize a rally at the White House to protest the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.” The night before the rally, he was distributing fliers at gay bars in D.C. when Carlson approached him and asked, “You’re not from here, are you?” McGonnigal responded: “How do you know?” Carlson replied: “You’re carrying around a big gay metro D.C. map.” They spent the rest of the evening handing out fliers together. (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
McGonnigal said he’d be pleasantly surprised if the court finds that all state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. “What is most likely to happen is that they will strike down DOMA and leave Prop. 8 overturned—as had been found by previous courts—allowing the citizens of California to once again have marriage equality.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
McGonnigal said he’d be pleasantly surprised if the court finds that all state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. “What is most likely to happen is that they will strike down DOMA and leave Prop. 8 overturned—as had been found by previous courts—allowing the citizens of California to once again have marriage equality.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
McGonnigal said the looming court decisions are on his mind: “It's weighing on us. We helped organize the rallies that happened outside the Supreme Court when the cases were being heard back in March, so we're pretty interested in the results.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
McGonnigal said the looming court decisions are on his mind: “It's weighing on us. We helped organize the rallies that happened outside the Supreme Court when the cases were being heard back in March, so we're pretty interested in the results.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
On Thursday, the couple spent the afternoon at the White House for its LGBT Pride Reception, where they met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. “We told the vice president we'd recently been married,” McGonnigal said. “He got very excited, grabbed my camera and tossed it to his aide, saying, ‘Congrats! Gimme that! Let's take a picture!’” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
On Thursday, the couple spent the afternoon at the White House for its LGBT Pride Reception, where they met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. “We told the vice president we'd recently been married,” McGonnigal said. “He got very excited, grabbed my camera and tossed it to his aide, saying, ‘Congrats! Gimme that! Let's take a picture!’” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
“We are so hopeful that the Supreme Court will make the right decision and recognize what we've known all along: that we are full citizens entitled to all of the joys, benefits, obligations, commitments, and longevity that is marriage,” Carlson said. “When we were little kids we never thought we'd be able to find someone to marry, much less be able to do it legally. That we could soon have marriage equality be the law of the land is a dream come true.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)
Gay wedding profile: Jamie McGonnigal and Sean Carlson
“We are so hopeful that the Supreme Court will make the right decision and recognize what we've known all along: that we are full citizens entitled to all of the joys, benefits, obligations, commitments, and longevity that is marriage,” Carlson said. “When we were little kids we never thought we'd be able to find someone to marry, much less be able to do it legally. That we could soon have marriage equality be the law of the land is a dream come true.” (Photo courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh)

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