A nice day for a gay wedding

It seemed like any other wedding ceremony, but these weren't your typical couples.

On October 9, 2010, twenty couples gathered to affirm their love for each other at the “Wedding of the Hearts” ceremony at Seville Square, part of a day-long gay pride festival at the downtown park in Pensacola, Florida. These gay couples vowed to love and honor each other until death do they part, even though Florida does not recognize gay marriage.

Reverend Sandy O’Stein of the Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church presided over the ceremony, where the couples, some in everyday casual wear, some in black tuxes and wedding dresses, professed their love to one another. Local musical act David Su and the Jazzy Two, performed their rendition of Etta James' "At Last" while the wedded couples danced at the reception that followed.

One of the most memorable couples who wed that day was Nashville resident Regine Phillips and her partner of eighteen years, Richard Bento. Phillips was the only transsexual to participate in the ceremony. Wearing a white wedding dress and holding a bouquet of red roses, she finally experienced the inspired feeling that so many other soon-to-be-wed people do.

“Granted, being the only transsexual made it even more special because I was not only getting married, but I got to be the goddess as well,” Phillips said.

Phillips, who has finished in the top ten of numerous national pageants including Miss Gay USA, called it a "beautiful day" and described it as a dream come true.

“The tears where too much to hold back," she said. "The weather was so nice. Birds were everywhere. We laughed and hugged, and then it got serious. We exchanged our vows and exchanged rings and wrapped it up with a kiss. There I was not just a boy in a dress anymore, but the beautiful bride living my dream of having this moment and looking around to see my friends and family witness my husband and I profess our love with each other and making a commitment to each other.”

Gay marriage has become a very controversial issue, with only six states recognizing such unions under the law. When asked her thoughts on gay marriage, Phillips spoke from her own unique perspective about the need for marriage equality.

“I think gay marriage a good thing," she said. "It's such an awesome feeling and somehow gives relevance to our love for each other. Something about going through the whole experience of the event and just being able to share your love of your partner with the world and giving your vows in front of God and the world aloud is truly liberating.”

She added, “When the day comes that our state and federal government respect our commitment to each other legally, I will unpack the same dress I wore on that day and do it all again. I just hope my family is still around so that can celebrate that day with me as well.”


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