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Elaborate Same Sex Wedding Held in Washington Park
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) - More than 300 guests gathered in Washington Park Saturday evening to watch an elaborate wedding ceremony for an Over-the-Rhine gay couple hoping Ohios ban on same-sex marriage will someday be repealed.
Ryan Messer and Jimmy Musuraca live on the edge of the park. They were legally married in New York City on Sept. 21. They chose the park for the ceremony because it was close to their home and has become a major community center since undergoing a $48 million renovation. The couple rode into the ceremony on horseback as friends and family wearing traditional Indian garb surrounded them for the Indian style wedding.
"We live right here and it really is one of the most incredible examples of the rebirth that Cincinnati is seeing and happens to be in our backyard so we can't think of a better place that we'd like to kick off today, Ryan Messer said.
Messer and Musuracas ceremony was the first same-sex wedding held at the park and the fourth wedding related event. The ceremony was held as 3CDC, the organization that operates the park, is looking at ways to market it for future weddings.
We'd love to have more weddings here. The space, it's eight acres so there's different spaces you can look at, you can get creative. The gazebo in the middle and the civic lawn, said Christy Samad of 3CDC.
No one who attended the event would accuse Messer or Musuraca of a lack of creativity. The elaborate ceremony took up a good portion of the park and included a dance troupe from the University of Cincinnati. Messer and Musuraca hope their wedding and marriage can be a part of changing attitudes about same-sex marriage in Ohio. Their hopes have been bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. However, the justices allowed state bans to stand.
"The federal government recognizes us. It's really about just being treated as an equal in the state where we live, Musuraca said. Messer added, "We have son and being able to get married in the state would be a wonderful thing. We had to go to New York but some day it will be legal here and obviously we hope that it will be sooner rather than later."
Voters in Ohio overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. But groups including Freedom to Marry Ohio are collecting signatures in the hope of placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014 that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The amendment would allow religious institutions to determine whether they would perform or recognize a marriage.