Kinzie Cooper and Kayla Kiphen both giggled and cried Friday as they promised to “walk together through all things . . . in peace, harmony and love” as the first of six same-sex couples scheduled to wed at the Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church over the weekend.
Surrounded by rainbow flags, six officiants each took a turn leading Cooper, 25, and Kiphen, 29, through a portion of the ceremony as they became “lifelong spouses” during the 24-hour “marriage-a-thon” that ended Saturday. Local pastors waived their fees for any same-sex couple wishing to be married.
Rev. Kristen Cervantes, pastor of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco, said the pastors decided to hold the marriage-a-thon to commemorate the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision on June 26 legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.
Cervantes said the beautiful ceremony energized her and she appreciated the community’s support.
“It’s really nice. If feels like a nice big community,” she said.
About 30 people came to the ceremony, some bringing a wedding cake, cupcakes and rainbow-colored flowers to celebrate.
Metropolitan pastor Rev. Charley Garrison said he was thrilled with the turnout.
Garrison said he hosted the marriage-a-thon because he wanted to provide an avenue for couples to be married and enjoyed being a part of their occasions.
“Every time I get to see a couple that are just happy to tears, it affects me a whole lot. . . . It’s a sacred moment for them and I’m a part of that sacredness,” Garrison said.
Met at church function
Cooper and Kiphen met 10 years ago at a church youth function and stayed in touch until becoming an official couple more than a year ago. They plan to have a wedding in April, but they decided to do a ceremony early because Kiphen struggles with medical issues and she wanted Cooper to have access to her hospital room.
“We were already going to do it. We had proposed to each other last Father’s Day and had planned on already getting married. This just presented us the opportunity a little earlier,” Kiphen said.
Both women said the days leading up to the ceremony were emotional and they both really appreciated how family and friends attended to support them. The pair hasn’t bought wedding rings yet, but Kiphen took Cooper’s last name after the wedding.
Cooper said she felt a sense of relief after the ceremony since they had been fighting for the right to marry for so long.
“You can breathe,” she said.