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Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church holds its first same-sex wedding

The Costa Mesa-based congregation, which offered free weddings to gay couples Saturday, was the place two Anaheim men picked to have their special day at after 10 years of being together.

July 07, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Jose A. Lopez-Mercedes, left, and Steven Fenn Jr., both of Anaheim, prepare to enter the doors to their wedding ceremony at Orange Coast Universalist Church in Costa Mesa on Saturday.
Jose A. Lopez-Mercedes, left, and Steven Fenn Jr., both… (Brittany Woolsey,…)

This article has been corrected. See note below.

Jose Lopez-Mercedes and Steven Fenn, Jr., had this special day planned three years ago.

So when the United States Supreme Court ruled late last month that backers of Proposition 8 — a ballot initiative that barred same-sex marriage in California — had no legal standing to appeal a lower court decision overturning the ban, the two Anaheim men began searching through emails they'd sent to each other to help them remember what they'd wanted in the past and plan for their wedding.

Saturday was Fenn and Lopez-Mercedes' day, and 75 loved ones joined them at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa to help the couple celebrate.

The church, which refers to itself as "a welcoming community encompassing different cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, and religious perspectives" on its website, offered free same-sex weddings Saturday.

Fenn and Lopez-Mercedes' wedding was the first same-sex ceremony at Orange Coast since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, said Orange Coast Unitarian music director Beth Syverson, who wed Jan Mabie on the steps of the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana soon after the ruling.

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"This is something we want to do more of, to make sure people know we're here," Syverson said of performing weddings at Orange Coast. "It's all about accepting everybody."

Lopez-Mercedes, 35, and Fenn, 36, who met on the Internet and have been partners for nearly 10 years, held hands as Lee Marie Sanchez, a minister from Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Church in Los Angeles County, led them through the ceremony inside the church's social hall.

Hydrangeas in vases decorated tables near the stage.

Friends Kim Ramos-Moushey and Lilia Franco ushered Lopez-Mercedes and Fenn into the room and gave the men their respective rings.

"By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you legally married," Marie Sanchez said.

The attendees began clapping before she could finish the sentence.

"Each of you may kiss your husband."

And with that, Fenn and Lopez-Mercedes, each dressed in matching white suits with leis made of yellow flowers around their necks, kissed, then walked to the outdoor patio for pictures and a champagne toast.

"I'm filled with gratitude," Fenn said. "The equal respect is so important. No more 'domestic partnership.' "

Ramos-Moushey was equally joyful.

"I've been waiting for this day for years, I'm going to start crying," she said.

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