Border bells

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2007-01-18T09:00:00-04:00 January 18th, 2007|News|

CindyLou Owen smiled from ear to ear. So much, in fact, that her cheeks were in pain for days after she married Dr. Lori Owen.
“Our wedding day was absolutely full of love and beauty … ,” Lori remembers. “Cindy was so stunning I couldn’t stop looking at her. And if I did have to look away, when I did turn back, I was startled all over again at how striking she is.”
Compared to traditional heterosexual marriages the couple has attended, their wedding at Metropolitan Community Church of Windsor (at Westminster United Church) in October wasn’t much different. There was the pastor. The rings. The vows. The music. The handcrafted silk arrangements flown in from Scotland. And Celtic Unity Candles to match their outfits’ trim colors.
Lori, 44, wore a short veil and a sparkling-stone tiara to match the red trim on her traditional wedding gown. Following in her admiration for language and writing, the ceremony’s musical prelude included Celtic vocals and instrumentals: church bells, Gregorian style chants and bagpipes. CindyLou, 36, wore a traditional Scottish kilt ensemble.
Together they gracefully walked the aisle to Cyndi Lauper’s raw cover of “At Last.”
Thirty other couples have tied the knot in the last two years at MCC-Windsor, which is celebrating its 19th anniversary on Jan. 20.
Last summer, more than 2,300 same-sex couples obtained marriage licences in Canada, bringing the total number to 12,438 as of November, according to Canadians for Equal Marriage.
“The usual number for most ‘mainstream’ churches seems to be around five to 10 per year, so we (MCC-Windsor) do more of them,” says the Rev. Martha Daniels. “I’m not quite sure what that means — if GLBT people are playing ‘catch-up’ on getting married now that it’s legal in Canada, or if we just see more of them here in Windsor because of the border?”

South Africa isn’t just around the block. Neither is Belgium. To get married in Spain, Lori or CindyLou would need to be a Spanish citizen. And in Massachusetts couples have to be residents of the state or another state that hasn’t banned it. So, after taking this into consideration, the Southfield women chose Canada.
Daniels witnesses many gay Michigan couples crossing the border to wed because it’s not recognized in the state of Michigan. In fact, more than half of the weddings she’s officiated at were for Michigan lovebirds.
“We could’ve had a Holy Union here (in Michigan), but we both wanted much more than that,” CindyLou says. “Our marriage is just as legal and binding where our ceremony was performed as anyone else’s.”
The day before their wedding, Lori and CindyLou hauled items — swords (used for the dress), candles and video cameras — that they were concerned about getting over the border. When they encountered the border guards, they were shocked.
Not that they were hassled, because they weren’t, but the guards greeted them warmly when they explained they were coming to Canada for their nuptials.
On the other hand, “the American (guards) seemed a little taken back that we could get married in Canada and that we might choose to do so. Or perhaps they were surprised that we’d consider outing ourselves to immigration officials. You can never tell,” Lori says.

The married couple adore Daniels, who’s been at WCC-Windsor since November 2004, and the church.
“(We) love her church,” CindyLou says. “It’s beautiful.”
The church’s mission statement reads: “The Metropolitan Community Church of Windsor is a Christ-centered community providing opportunities to experience the freedom of God’s unconditional love through inspirational worship, outreach, spiritual growth and education so that all may become the completed portrait that God envisions.”
The church doesn’t discriminate against social, racial, economic and sexual orientation and emphasizes God’s unconditional love for all. “Love has no boundaries, nor is it defined by sexual orientation. God has blessed us with the ultimate love, Jesus Christ, who has shown us the way and how to love,” WCC-Windsor’s Web site says.
As members of Metropolitan Community Church in Pontiac, CindyLou and Lori met Daniels, who like other couples interviewed them before joining them in the Rite of Holy Matrimony, a while back when she preached there.
“(We) wanted her to be a part of our ceremony, especially if we had it at her church!” Lori says. “In addition, the architecture and acoustics of the church building itself are exquisite.”

Lori took a bite of marriage equality when she married CindyLou.
“Perhaps the political whispers I speak need to be shouted louder,” she says. “Ultimately, until we have the right to marry the one we love, in our own little towns or cities, we must continue to raise expectations and speak out for our desire for equal rights when it comes to state and federal laws protecting our relationships.”
CindyLou remains optimistic that gay people are on their way to greener pastures concerning the marriage-debate. Soon, she believes people — like those in Canada — will catch up with the rest of the world.
“Besides, no matter what Bush says, she’s my wife,” CindyLou insists.
Lori retorts and laughs, “Wife, huh? The little radical feminist in the back of brain sometimes struggles with the vocabulary, and yet there is another part of me that has always ached to simply be a wife.”

{TAGLINE Chris Azzopardi is a staff writer for Between The Lines. To reach him, send an e-mail to chris@pridesource.com.}

Metropolitan Community Church of Windsor
19th Anniversary Celebration
6 p.m. Jan. 20
(519) 977-6897
www.mccwindsor.ca

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.