Tag Archives: weddings

Theater RED’s ‘Bachelorette’ parties hard, then gets real

The saying “with friends like these, who needs enemies” wasn’t written to describe Bachelorette, but it certainly could have been. The Leslye Headland play, produced by Theatre RED at the Alchemist Theatre, depicts a pre-wedding night gone terribly wrong, as four former friends fueled by booze, drugs and jealousy scrap over slights old, new, borrowed and blue in a fancy hotel suite.

It’s a juicy premise with an even juicier execution. But what makes this production of Bachelorette more than just 80 minutes of girls behaving badly is the emotional depths director Mark Boergers finds in a seemingly shallow premise, grappling with issues of addiction, loneliness and what it means to be a true friend.

Headland’s script eases us into these more serious subjects with a sleight-of-hand trick, opening with what appears to be the beginning of a bachelorette party. First arrive Gena and Katie (Liz Faraglia and Shannon Nettesheim), already buzzed on alcohol and cocaine and delighted to find a bathtub full of champagne. Then comes Regan (Tess Cinpinski), the maid of honor, promising the eventual arrival of guys she met at a party earlier in the evening and informing the others that the bride Becky (Kelly Doherty) left them the suite for the evening.

But even before Regan arrives, the tone of the evening is fundamentally off — Gena and Katie are bitter from the minute they enter the room, Katie hiding it behind a veneer of childish delight and Gena not hiding it at all. All three alternate between generic bitching and specific complaints over how unfair it is that their “pigface” friend Becky scored a rich, handsome fiancee before any of them. Neither Gena nor Katie are even invited to the wedding itself — just to this night-before debauchery. And when that debauchery leads to a catastrophe — the destruction of Becky’s wedding dress — Regan reveals that inviting the two was her idea altogether, an act of sabotage either unintentional or deviously malicious.

This sounds like it’s about to segue into some madcap adventure to save the dress and the wedding, but most of that actually takes place off screen, when Gena flees the scene to find a tailor (one of Headland’s few missteps; Gena is too fascinating and acerbic a character and Faraglia too compelling an actor to remove from the action). With that MacGuffin removed, Katie and Regan simply spiral further, with Regan choosing to sleep with her slick new friend Jeff (Nick Narcisi) when he arrives and Katie getting drunker and more depressed even as she makes a real connection with Jeff’s friend Joe (Evan Koepnick).

The worse things get, the more Bachelorette becomes about real, serious issues. Sure, Regan jumps into bed with Nick, but not before revealing her own insecurities about the longtime boyfriend who won’t even propose to her and doubts about her self-worth. And Katie is just getting blackout drunk like she always does, except that seeing it through the eyes of a newcomer instead of a friend her behavior looks addictive and self-destructive.

But most importantly, Bachelorette’s characters are forced to be honest — for the first time, perhaps, in a long while — or suffer the consequences.

Nettesheim and Koepnick get the best leverage out of that choice. Each of their characters bare their souls to each other and share dark secrets, and despite their immediate connection neither of them are 100 percent okay with what they see — a nuanced response that’s fascinating to watch.

Regan, on the other hand, continues to hide behind a false self, and it comes back to haunt her in the play’s final moments, as first Gena and then Becky shatter it for all to see. Cinpinski doesn’t always seem on the same level as Faraglia and a showstopping Doherty, but perhaps that’s the point. When they finally call out her character, she breaks — and in that shattered moment, Cinpinski more than makes up for any uncertainties earlier in the production.

'Bachelorette' depicts a pre-wedding party that goes south quickly – but it's about more than the bachelors and bachelorettes behaving badly (from left: Evan Koepnick, Tess Cinpinski, Shannon Nettesheim, Liz Faraglia, Nick Narcisi, Kelly Doherty). Photo: Traveling Lemur Productions.
‘Bachelorette’ depicts a pre-wedding party that goes south quickly – but it’s about more than the bachelors and bachelorettes behaving badly (from left: Evan Koepnick, Tess Cinpinski, Shannon Nettesheim, Liz Faraglia, Nick Narcisi, Kelly Doherty). Photo: Traveling Lemur Productions.

For all the laughs you’ll get from its characters, Bachelorette is not a play to be seen lightly. On the surface, it is coarse, vulgar, tawdry and mean. At its core, it is heartbreaking, poignant and sometimes even contradictory. But it is also not a play you’ll forget lightly. After all, bachelorette parties are supposed to be nights to remember.

Bachelorette runs through March 19 at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $15, with VIP ticket packages available. Visit theaterred.com for more details.

Year in Review: Supreme Court gives marriage equality its blessing

An Alabama justice notorious for his bigotry couldn’t stop the equality avalanche.

Neither could a hypocritical county clerk in Kentucky and her allies — from conservative politicians such as Mike Huckabee to hate groups such as the Family Research Council.

In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal across the United States with a 5-4 ruling from the Supreme Court on June 26.

The morning of the decision, same-sex couples in many states where same-sex marriage had been banned headed to clerks’ offices to apply for marriage licenses and then to see officiants who could preside over their legal unions.

In a Rose Garden news conference, President Barack Obama hailed the ruling as a milestone in American justice that arrived “like a thunderbolt.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, stating that the hope of gay people intending to marry “is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Outside the court, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., sang out, “Oh, say, can you see.”

“Love wins!” boomed celebrants at Pride parades held days after the ruling.

And so many couples said, “I do.”

At the time of the decision, there were bans against gay marriage in place in 13 states.

The bans fell more easily in some states than in other states.

In Alabama, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered state courts not to implement the federal court order and fought for weeks to block marriages the way others before him had fought to retain segregation in the 1960s.

In Rowan County, clerk Kim Davis, a born-again Christian fundamentalist who has divorced three times, refused to comply with the court mandate and denied marriage licenses to gay couples. While Davis, who cited God as her guide, briefly was jailed for contempt of court, deputy clerks in her office lifted the ban.

Meanwhile, LGBT civil rights advocates continued the drive to enact non-discrimination protections at federal, state and local levels.

The federal Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, had 170 co-sponsors in the House and 39 in the Senate as the year ended.

Chad Griffin, president and CEO of the Human Rights Campaign, pointed out when lobbying for the legislation that in most states, a couple who gets married is at risk of being fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes simply for posting their wedding photos to Facebook.

In Wisconsin, activists continued to press for state protections for transgender people and to fight to hold off a Republican attempt to block school districts from enacting policies protecting transgender students.

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the state does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.

Fast track to approval

Between June 26, when the Supreme Court legalized the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and Nov. 6, about 96,000 gays in the United States married, according to Gallup. UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that close to a million lesbian and gay couples living in the U.S. are married. In some liberal states, it’s estimated that up to half of all same-sex couples living together are married.

Polling in July 2015 found 55 percent of Americans approve of marriage equality. In comparison, it took until the 1990s before a majority of Americans approved of inter-racial marriages, which were made legal in 1967.

DID YOU KNOW?

At the time of the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality, 20 other countries already allowed same-sex couples to marry in all jurisdictions. The first country to legalize same-sex marriage was the Netherlands, in 2000.

One Union: What does the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage mean?

The decades-long debate about whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in the United States was settled when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay and lesbian couples can get married anywhere in the country.

A closer look at what it means:

IS THIS THE FINAL WORD ON THE ISSUE?

Yes, for all intents and purposes. The states that oppose gay marriage could ask the justices to reconsider, but that’s unlikely. That means June 26, 2015, will be marked in future history books as the moment gay marriage was declared legal across the United States.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE 14 STATES THAT STILL BAN GAY MARRIAGE?

The Southern and Midwestern states must lift their bans and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Marriage licenses were already being issued Friday in many of these states. The court gave the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration, but some state officials and county clerks are opting to go ahead and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The 14 states that had banned gay marriage are Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, most of Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.

DOES ANYTHING CHANGE IN THE 36 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA THAT ALREADY ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE?

No. The ruling ensures that the wave of lower-court decisions that legalized gay marriage across most of the West and East in the last 1 1/2 years stand. The Supreme Court ruling prevents state officials and county clerks from being forced to determine how to deal with thousands of marriages already issued. LGBT advocates and married gay couples celebrated in these states, expressing relief and joy that the movement’s remarkable winning streak in the courts stretched to the end.

DOES THIS MEAN CHURCHES MUST CONDUCT GAY MARRIAGES?

No. Religious organizations are exempt from this ruling. They can still make their own decisions about whether clergy will conduct gay marriages in their places of worship. Southern Baptists, Mormons and other conservative churches that believe God intended marriage to be a union only between a man and a woman said the ruling won’t change their decisions not to allow same-sex marriages in their churches. Some religions already allow gay marriage, such as the United Church of Christ, and more could follow. Episcopalians are set to decide next week at an assembly in Salt Lake City whether to change church laws so religious weddings can be performed for same-sex couples.

WILL GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES GET THE SAME BENEFITS THAT OPPOSITE-SEX MARRIED COUPLES RECEIVE?

They should, but there may be hiccups as states come to grips with this new reality. Being able to get Social Security benefits, file taxes jointly and get divorced should be easy to implement, but gay and lesbian couples will likely find a bumpy road in being granted outright parentage of their children, said Douglas NeJaime, faculty director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Most states grant automatic parental rights to the biological birth mother and father. For a lesbian couple, only one person fits that mold. For gay men, neither does. Iowa refused to grant automatic parental rights until the state Supreme Court ordered Iowa to do so in 2013. In Utah, a lesbian couple has sued the state after they were not allowed to put both of their names on their new baby’s birth certificate. NeJaime predicts the states that resisted making gay marriage legal will also push back on this front.

WERE THE JUSTICES UNANIMOUS IN THEIR DECISION?

No. The ruling narrowly passed 5-4. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices, saying the stories of the people asking for the right to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond.” The four dissenting justices each filed a separate opinion explaining his views, but they all agreed that states and their voters should have been left with the power to decide who can marry. “This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

WHAT DOES THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THINK ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE?

Nearly half of Americans favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed in their own states, while just over a third are opposed, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll in April. Other recent polls have found even higher support for same-sex marriage. For example, a Pew Research Center poll conducted in May found that 57 percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while a Gallup poll also conducted in May found 60 percent say those marriages should be legally recognized.

HOW MANY SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE ALREADY MARRIED?

There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to the Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, the institute says.

HOW DID CONSERVATIVE GROUPS THAT OPPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE REACT TO THE RULING?

With frustration. The Sutherland Institute in Utah said the decision shows a growing opinion among government and “other elites” that adult interests are more important than the well-being of children, who they believe are much better off raised by opposite-sex couples. Another Utah group called the Eagle Forum declared in a statement that the justices “voted today to destroy our American culture.”

Transcript: President Obama’s remarks on marriage equality ruling

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality nationwide, President Barack Obama delivered the following remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House.

The president made his comments at about 11:15 a.m. June 26: 

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal.  The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times — a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American.  

Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens.  And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. 

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law.  That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. 

This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have.  It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move [to] or even visit another.  This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.

In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.  

This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case.  It’s a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights.  It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other.  It’s a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come.

And this ruling is a victory for America.  This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts:  When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free. 

My administration has been guided by that idea.  It’s why we stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and why we were pleased when the Court finally struck down a central provision of that discriminatory law.  It’s why we ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  From extending full marital benefits to federal employees and their spouses, to expanding hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, we’ve made real progress in advancing equality for LGBT Americans in ways that were unimaginable not too long ago.  

I know change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed so slow for so long.  But compared to so many other issues, America’s shift has been so quick.  I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs.  All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.  

But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible.  And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them.  Because for all our differences, we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone.  That’s always been our story.

We are big and vast and diverse; a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories, but bound by our shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.

We are a people who believe that every single child is entitled to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

There’s so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American.  But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect. 

That’s the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court, but, more importantly, it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents — parents who loved their children no matter what.  Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.

What an extraordinary achievement.  What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.  What a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake, and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world. 

Those countless, often anonymous heroes — they deserve our thanks.  They should be very proud.  America should be very proud. 

Thank you.  (Applause.) 

As same-sex marriage spreads, ranks of gay dads increase

Fatherhood has been exhilarating for Weston Clark, who put aside a teaching career to be a stay-at-home dad for a 4-year-old son and 17-month-old daughter adopted by him and his husband.

Yet Clark acknowledged some unease as he looks ahead to late August, when his son starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City.

“How is that going to play out for him, the fact that he has two dads?” Clark wondered.

“The fact that his parents made a decision that already makes him stand out makes me nervous – that wasn’t his choice,” Clark said. “We will fight in every way we can to make sure he’s OK.”

The mix of pride, joy and apprehension conveyed by Clark is familiar to many parents – including many in America’s growing ranks of gay dads.

More so than heterosexual couples or lesbians, who can bear their own children, gay men face high hurdles en route to parenthood. The two main avenues open to them – adoption or surrogacy – can be costly and complicated.

“They have to go out of their way to become fathers,” said Nancy Mezey, a sociology professor at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, who has studied gay parents.

By the tens of thousands, gay men are choosing to do just that. And as they celebrate Father’s Day this year, they can anticipate that their ranks will continue to swell if the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling due later this month, legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

A decade ago, it was far more common for lesbians to be raising children than for gay men. The gap remains but is closing.

Gary Gates, an expert on gay and lesbian demography with the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, estimates that there are about 40,000 gay male couples in the U.S. who are raising children, and roughly three times as many lesbian couples who are doing so.

How are the gay dads doing? At this point, there’s relatively little long-term research comparing outcomes of children raised by gay fathers to the outcomes of other children.

Among the handful of scholars who’ve broached the subject is Abbie Goldberg, a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

On the one hand, she believes children of gay dads and lesbian moms will be less susceptible to gender stereotypes than children raised by straight parents. However, Goldberg says it’s possible that future research will reflect the challenges faced by the many gay dads who have adopted their children. On average, adopted children have higher rates of health and behavioral problems than other children, according to the research group Child Trends.

Comparing lesbians or straight families with biological kids to gay men with adopted kids “could in theory make gay dads look worse,” Goldberg said.

But Goldberg said gay dads tend to have higher incomes than lesbian moms, and also tend to have good relations with the birth mothers of their adopted children. “They’re more OK with granting birth moms a special role in the family,” she said. “They don’t feel their role as parents is threatened.”

In Philadelphia, Greg Girdy and Paul Yorgey keep in contact with the birth mother of their adopted 4-year-old daughter, Bella. The mom attended a recent party celebrating Bella’s baptism.

The dads also can call on a host of other women in their extended families to serve as female role models. Yet they sometimes bridle at unsolicited advice.

“As two men, when we adopted, a lot of people think we need help, in a way that would never happen for a straight couple,” Girdy said. “Like Bella’s hair care, or what clothes she should wear. … We tend to get advice when we don’t need it or want it.”

In addition to Bella, the Girdy/Yorgey household includes two boys from the local foster-care system. The men expect to adopt a 7-month-old once some logistical matters are resolved, while the other boy, who’s nearly 5, may be returned soon to his mother.

“That’s one of the stresses we face,” said Girdy, a lawyer. “We’re two non-biological dads. Any time possible, the family court wants to reunify that kid with the mom, even if the mom shows no connection with the kid.”

Girdy and Yorgey have been a couple for 11 years, and married in March 2014, the same month that Bella’s adoption was completed. They had been talking about having kids since early in their relationship, but once they started the adoption process, it took four years before Bella joined the family.

The dads are a study in diversity. Girdy, a 45-year-old African-American, grew up in Texas, and still roots avidly for the football team of the University of Texas, his alma mater. Yorgey, 30, grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, part of an Irish-Polish family devoted to the NFL’s Eagles.

“When we were dating, we never referred to ourselves as a gay couple,” Girdy said. “But once we did adopt, we needed to show Bella we are proud of who we are, so when someone asks her who her parents are, she can proudly say, `I have two dads.'”

A similar brand of family pride has been on display at the U.S. Capitol since Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, and his partner, Marlon Reis, became dads. They have a 3 1/2-year-old son, Caspian, and a 1-year-old daughter, Cora.

Polis said he and Reis face the same challenges as other parents – “There’s no gay way or straight way to change diapers in the middle of the night.”

However, he hopes his family might have some influence on House colleagues who have opposed legal recognition of same-sex couples. “Even the most conservative Republicans like to hold Cora or talk to Caspian when I bring them on the floor of the House,” Polis said.

In Salt Lake City, Weston Clark and Brandon Mark also are feeling welcomed as they settle in to married life and child-rearing.

Clark, 36, and Mark, 37, have been a couple for 15 years, and adopted their son, Xander, in 2010 when there seemed to be no foreseeable prospect of same-sex marriage becoming legal in Utah. At the time, Utah law even blocked gay couples from adopting, so the two men established residency in California and completed the adoption there.

On Dec. 20, 2013, as they were in the process of adopting their second child, change came suddenly. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, in a ruling that was soon echoed in numerous other states, struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Clark, who received a text message with the news, was excited yet worried that the opportunity to wed might be brief. He called Mark at work with a question, “Do you want to go get married?”

“We wanted to get it done in the window,” Clark said. “We had our kids. We wanted protection for them.”

While firing off text messages to friends and family, the men rushed to the county clerk’s office late in the afternoon.

“It was just chaos,” Clark recalled. “We got there at 4:45. We got married by the mayor, on live TV.”

Looking back, Clark says the decision to raise children – made in 2010 – was even more momentous for him and Mark than the decision to get married.

“We asked ourselves many times: Do we really want to do this? Is it good for us as a couple? Is it good for the child to bring them into that environment?” Clark said.

“There’s no question that having a child has been beneficial to me and our relationship,” Clark added. “We had given thought from the beginning to whether having these kids would be good for them in the long run … So far it’s been amazing.”

One of the couple’s key decisions involved the division of work and family responsibilities. Mark works for a Salt Lake City law firm, while Clark, a former high school teacher, says he’s happy as a stay-at-home dad.

Mezey, the Monmouth University sociologist, says the initial division of work/family responsibilities can be challenging for some pairs of gay dads. But she says there’s research suggesting that those who decide to stay at home with the kids are often pleased at the results. “They challenge dominant beliefs that dads are primarily breadwinners and can’t be the primary nurturers,” Mezey said.

Overall, Mezey believes gay fathers can carve out a distinctive niche for themselves.

“They’re adopting children that other people don’t want to adopt. They’re teaching their children tolerance and expanding definitions of gender roles,” she said. “They are helping to redefine what it means to be a real man.”

Irish gays wake up to whole new world: When’s the wedding?

Ireland’s gay citizens woke up on May 23 in what felt like a nation reborn — some with dreams of wedding plans dancing in their heads.

Many weren’t rising too early. The Irish gay community’s biggest party in history came late on May 23, after the announcement that the nation’s voters had passed a gay marriage referendum by a landslide.

Ireland’s unexpectedly strong 62 percent “yes” to adding same-sex marriage to its conservative 1937 constitution is expected to lead to a wave of gay weddings this summer. The Justice Department confirmed Sunday it plans to publish a marriage bill this week that will be passed by both houses of parliament and signed into law by June.

With the move, Ireland became the first country in the world to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote. Nineteen other countries, including most U.S. states, have legalized the practice through their legislatures and courts.

For Ireland’s most prominent gay couple, Sen. Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, it’s an emotionally overwhelming moment. Since 2003 they have fought Ireland legally to have their marriage in Canada recognized as valid here, have taken their case all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, their day has come.

“For so long, I’ve been having to dig in my heels and say: Well, we ARE married. I’m a married woman!” said Zappone, a Seattle native who resettled with her Irish spouse in Dublin after they met and fell in love while studying theology in Boston College. “Now that it has happened, at a personal level, it’s just going to take a long time to let that acceptance sink in.”

The unexpectedly strong percentage of approval surprised both sides. More than 1.2 million Irish voters backed the “yes” side to less than 750,000 voting “no.”

“With today’s vote, we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny proclaimed.

Analysts credited the “yes” side with adeptly employing social media to mobilize young, first-time voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. The “yes” campaign also featured moving personal stories from prominent Irish people _ either coming out as gays or describing their hopes for gay children _ that helped convince wavering voters to back equal marriage rights.

Both Catholic Church leaders and gay rights advocates said the result signaled a social revolution in Ireland, where only a few decades ago the authority of Catholic teaching was reinforced by voters who massively backed bans on abortion and divorce in the 1980s.

Voters legalized divorce only by a razor-thin margin in 1995 but now, by a firm majority, dismissed the Catholic Church’s repeated calls to reject gay marriage. Abortion, still outlawed, looms as the country’s next great social policy fight.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the “overwhelming vote” against church teaching on gay marriage meant that Catholic leaders in Ireland needed urgently to find a new message and voice for reaching Ireland’s young.

“It’s a social revolution. … The church needs to do a reality check right across the board,” said Martin, who suggested that some church figures who argued for gay marriage’s rejection came across as harsh, damning and unloving.

“Have we drifted completely away from young people?” he asked. “Most of those people who voted ‘yes’ are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years.”

After the result was announced, thousands of celebrants flooded into the Irish capital’s pubs and clubs. At the George, Ireland’s oldest gay pub, drag queens danced and lip-synced to Queen and the founding father of Ireland’s gay rights campaign, Sen. David Norris, basked in the greatest accomplishment of the movement’s 40-year history.

“The people in this small island off the western coast of Europe have said to the rest of the world: This is what it is to be decent, to be civilized, and to be tolerant! And let the rest of the world catch up!” Norris, 70, shouted with jubilant zeal to the hundreds packing the disco ball-lit hall.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Norris waged an often lonely two-decade legal fight to force Ireland to quash its Victorian-era laws outlawing homosexual acts. Ireland finally complied in 1993, becoming the last European Union country to do so.

This time, the gay community in Ireland managed to build a decisive base of support.

“People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, or friends and co-workers and colleagues, we’re a majority,” said Leo Varadkar, a 36-year-old Irish Cabinet minister who in January announced on national radio that he was gay. “For me it wasn’t just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution.”

After legalization of same-sex marriage, Wisconsin marriage rate is highest since 2007

A state report shows the legalization of gay marriage last year boosted the number of couples tying the knot to the highest rate Wisconsin has reported since 2007.

The Department of Health Services report found there were a total of 32,776 marriages performed in the state in 2014, an increase of 2,797 from the year before.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb last year ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. More than 500 same-sex couples were married within a month of the decision. 

The number of divorces also dropped from 15,941 in 2013 to 15,243 in 2014.

When ‘woof’ means ‘I do’

When Barb and Frank Prevort of Menomonee Falls decided to breed their German shepherds, their 5-year-old granddaughter objected.

“You can’t have babies unless you’re married,” the girl said. So her grandparents staged a wedding for the two pooches in their backyard.

About 30 human friends attended the nuptials, which were performed by a family friend. The Prevorts’ other dog — a white collie — stood up for bride and groom. The Prevorts’ granddaughter served as a flower girl.

The dogs, who’d been taught to bark on command, responded to their vows with a “woof.” Well, actually Jutta answered for both of them, Barb Prevort said.

Friends brought the newlywed couple gifts. Cake and Champagne were served.

The only downside to the wedding came later, when Jutta gave birth to puppies that were half-German shepherd and half-white collie. 

“My granddaughter was very mad,” Barb Prevort said. “She told me that Teddy should get a divorce.”

When the Prevorts’ dogs got hitched in 2002, “people thought we were crazy,” Prevort said. But today, doggy nuptials are blossoming, as people find new and unique ways to pamper their pets. Canine bar mitzvahs, known as “bark mitzvahs,” also are a growing trend.

When pet owners dress up their dogs in miniature white dresses and tiny tuxes, some believe the barks that signal “I do” reveal puppy love.

These animal lovers say their pooches can feel real longing for other pets, but experts aren’t so sure. Most people agree a wedding is just for fun or charity when the groom is drooling and the bride’s gown needs tailoring for her tail. After all, “you may now lick the bride” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

“Pet marriage or weddings are for people,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Owners host weddings because it makes them feel good, she said. People can’t know what dogs are thinking, but studies have shown they do experience emotion, Beaver said.

“Fear is a classic example,” she said. “But we don’t know if they experience it as you or I would.”

Others say it’s all about the animals — even if that means the first dance is a walk around a patch of grass instead a waltz.

“The weddings are for the dogs,” said Adina Slotsky, the owner and CEO of Hollywood Pet Parties. Still, birthday parties, dubbed “barkdays,” are much more popular, she said.

When owners plan doggy nuptials, aka “puptials,” they can go all out and stage some real tail-waggers. There are groomsmen and bridesmaids of every breed — and even some people who get down on all fours — flowers, music and a reception with food both people and pooches can enjoy, ranging from apple slices to baby back ribs with spinach.

All pet weddings move quickly because of short animal attention spans. With all the distractions, dogs spend lots of time on leashes.

A simple wedding costs about $300, Slotsky said. But it can easily grow to thousands of dollars if guests are plentiful, the venue is top-notch, the food is extravagant, a band plays and a florist creates centerpieces, she said.

The most lavish pet wedding took place in New York in 2012 when Baby Hope Diamond, a fluffy white Coton de Tulear, married a poodle named Chilly Pasternak as a charity fundraiser.

It was a ceremony for the ages, complete with limos, a $6,000 designer dress, sushi chef, mixologist to create “puptails,” florist, orchestra, wedding planner and parking valets. Ellen DeGeneres’ pet food company furnished a dog food buffet.

The event raised over $158,000 for the Humane Society of New York and earned a place in Guinness World Records for the most expensive pet wedding. Everything was donated and guests spent up to $10,000 for a table of 10.

One thing pet owners don’t have to worry about is divorce. But because animals have unique personalities just like people, there is no guarantee two animals will get along, Beaver said.

No studies show pets like or love one another, but “it is very common for two or more individual animals to spend a great amount of time together and show signs of stress if separated,” she said.

But some stick by the belief that dogs love, including Carol Bryant, co-founder of Wigglebutt Warriors, the fundraising division of the dog health website Fidose of Reality.

“I do believe that dogs can love and be in love with each other,” said Bryant, whose cocker spaniel married another dog for a company fundraiser.

Status of same-sex marriage in Guam, U.S. territories

Guam’s attorney general and governor are at odds over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the U.S. territory.

On April 15, the attorney general directed officials to begin processing marriage license applications from same-sex couples. But the governor said he wanted to study the issue more and his public health director said he wouldn’t accept such applications.

Guam would be the first territory in the nation to allow gay marriage if the attorney general’s view prevails.

Here’s the latest status of gay marriage in Guam.

IS GAY MARRIAGE LEGAL OR NOT IN GUAM?

The U.S. District Court of Guam falls under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which has ruled in favor of gay marriage. Guam’s Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson said in her directive that public health department officials should process marriage license applications from same-sex couples based on the 9th Circuit’s decision in October finding state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional. But Public Health Acting Director Leo Casil said his office won’t accept applications from same-sex couples “until further notice,” the Pacific Daily News newspaper on Guam reported.

WHERE DOES THE GOVERNOR STAND?

Gov. Eddie Calvo said in a statement he respects the attorney general’s view but noted the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld state bans on same-sex marriages. (He didn’t mention that Guam falls under the 9th Circuit, not the 6th, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.) He also observed the Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments on gay marriage. He suggested Guam lawmakers could pass legislation allowing gay marriage, or voters could do so in a referendum, “if it is the will of the people of Guam to make same-sex marriage legal.” Guam Legislature Vice Speaker BJ Cruz said Calvo “has never been in favor of same-gender marriage.” Cruz said the governor would “veto whatever bill we pass.”

WHO ARE THE KEY FIGURES?

Guam’s attorney general is elected, not appointed by the governor. Barrett-Anderson previously served in the Guam Legislature and was a judge on the Superior Court of Guam for 14 years.

Calvo, the governor, was elected in 2010. The former business executive has served five terms in the Guam Senate. His official biography said, “He is a man of deep faith, guided more by Christian values than any rule of politics.” He attends Mass at a Roman Catholic church in the territory’s capital.

HOW IS GUAM DIFFERENT FROM ALABAMA?

The case has echoes of the situation in Alabama. A federal judge there ordered an Alabama probate judge must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the Alabama Supreme Court told all probate judges to refuse to issue the licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to settle the issue later this year. Guam’s case is different in that no judge has weighed in.

OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES

If Guam allows gay marriage it would be the first U.S. territory to do so.

A lawsuit challenging a Puerto Rico law defining marriage as between a man and a woman has been put on hold pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said this week it will await that decision before scheduling oral arguments in the Puerto Rico case. The island’s Justice Department previously has defended the laws in court, but local Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said last month that the department will no longer do so.

NEXT STEPS

Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero sued early this week in U.S. District Court in Guam after their marriage application was refused last week.

The couple, both 28, say they are challenging “the discriminatory denial of their freedom to marry” in Guam.

Given the governor and health department’s resistance to the attorney general’s directive, a lawyer for the couple has said they have no choice but to move forward with their federal lawsuit. The issue of same-sex marriage is expected to go before the Supreme Court on April 28.

Right ramps up push for religious refusal bills

A florist who refused service to a same-sex couple planning a wedding broke the law in Washington state. That’s the ruling of a circuit court judge in a case closely watched by marriage equality advocates and opponents across the country.

Benton County Superior Judge Alex Ekstrom, in a 60-page ruling issued on Feb. 18 in Richland, Washington, said the religious beliefs of the owner of Arlene’s Flowers are protected by the First Amendment, but actions based on those beliefs may not be protected.

“For over 135 years, the Supreme Court has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief,” wrote the judge. “The courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”

Therefore, Ekstrom ruled, florist Barronell Stutzman violated Washington’s consumer protection and anti-discrimination law when she refused to sell Robert Ingersoll flowers for his wedding to Curt Freed in 2013.

Ingersoll had previously purchased flowers at the shop, but Stutzman, a Southern Baptist, told him she could not provide the flowers for the wedding because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ,” according to a deposition in the case.

The couple sued, with representation from the American Civil Liberties Union. The State of Washington also sued.

After Ekstrom’s ruling, Freed and Ingersoll issued a joint statement: “After two years, we are very pleased to have the court confirm that we were discriminated against under the law. We were hurt and saddened when we were denied service by Arlene’s Flowers after doing business with them for so many years. We respect everyone’s beliefs, but businesses that are open to the public have an obligation to serve everyone.”

Their lawyer, Sarah Dunne, legal director of the ACLU of Washington, said, “Religious freedom is a fundamental part of America. But religious beliefs do not give any of us a right to ignore the law or to harm others because of who they are. When gay people go to a business, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against.”

Ekstrom, in the ruling, observed that “no court has ever held that religiously motivated conduct, expressive or otherwise, trumps state discrimination law in public accommodations.” 

However, efforts are underway in at least eight states to enact or amend statutes to allow businesses to refuse service based on the religious beliefs of the owner. Liberty Counsel, a right-wing legal defense group, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential public policy organization with funding from right-wingers like Charles and David Koch, back the campaign.

Religious exemption or religious refusal bills have advanced in Indiana, Wyoming and Arkansas and were introduced in Utah, South Dakota, Georgia, Tennessee and New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republican Senate leader Phil Berger has proposed legislation that would allow government employees to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on employees’ religious beliefs.

“Magistrates, pastors, bakers, photographers, business owners, event planners and others are being forced against their will to celebrate and assist in something against their deeply held religious beliefs,” said Liberty Council founder Mat Staver.